It may seem like the Amish are stuck in the middle of the nineteenth century when looking at Amish horse and buggies. Does this seem odd to you? These Amish believe that everyday life cannot be separated from their religion. Rules do not replace the bible. However, they interpret the Bible as the church feels it applies to life today. Amish horse and buggies help to maintain a close-knit family, church and finally community structure. Members would more frequently be away from their communities when using automobiles. Church communities may then become scattered. Automobiles would also bring Amish more frequently to the city which is not a place they need to be. Amish feel they should refrain from anything that takes away from their spiritual life.
Why horse and buggy?
Because of their refusal to drive cars, the Amish seem to have a static community But these communities are robust and purposefully narrating a life of faith together. They believe a life of luxury, which includes automobiles, is not for Christians. Most Amish do use drivers for distant trips.
Children and horse and buggies
Most Amish boys can handle a horse and buggy by age 12. In some communities children get their first driving experience with pony carts. Around age 16, some teenage boys’ get their own buggies. Single girls usually do not have their own buggies. Young boys, before baptism, decorate the inside and outside of their buggies. The boys may have pin-striping on the outside and a stereo on the inside.
Larger families often have a two-seated buggy. Rarely do you see a three-seated buggy, six passenger. Some buggies have an open bed used to haul heavy loads such as feed. In winter, blankets are used with extra heavy clothing to keep warm. They have been known to mount propane heaters on the dash. Hot bricks wrapped in blankets, plastic jugs filled with hot water and lanterns are used to keep warn.
Horses are kept in a stall in a barn or shed when not being used. The horses may be put in the pasture to graze if the weather is nice . Grazing in the pasture means less feed the horses need. A well trained horse will come to his master when called. Horses are usually fed twice a day. They eat hay and a grains. Horses also should be brushed often.
There are rules the Amish must follow when driving their horse and buggy on the road. l. Use common courtesy.
2. Travel as far on the shoulder of the road as possible.
3. A buggy traveling behind another should keep at least a car length between each other.
Family Life , January, 1976 (an Amish publication)
Silver reflecting tape around the perimeter of a buggy was one of the first safety features to be used. This began in Indiana in 1954. Battery operated red flasher lights were required in the late 1950’s. But some very conservative Amish objected to this. In the 1960’s, slow moving vehicle protection was introduced. It was in the form of a large red-orange triangle. Indiana, in 1967, was the first state to make triangles a requirement for buggies. Next was Ohio in 1974. And last, Pennsylvania in 1977. Conservative Amish still rejected the use of the triangles, some were sent to jail, paid fine. In addition, some had their buggies confiscated. Eventually, a compromise was made with the conservative Amish to use reflective tape. Some states also require license plates for horse drawn vehicles.