Today’s Horse Facts: Horses for Amish Buggies

If you’re not familiar with breeds of horses, then you probably don’t know beans (or corn for the horse’s sake) about the breeds the Amish use most frequently to pull their buggies. Let’s spruce up on your pulling horse facts.

Breeds of horses are as numerous as breeds of dogs. The horses’ confirmations and size all vary according to their intended use. The Amish buy Standardbreds and Saddlebreds for their buggies. But why?

It has everything to do with the “gait” or stepping ability of the horse. Both the Standardbred and Saddlebred have the unique inborn ability to trot more readily than canter or run at a fast pace. They’d rather high step in second gear anytime than gallop over the hill into the sunset.

Standardbreds are used mostly for harness racing. In that racing genre, a jockey sits in a tiny cart behind the horse while the horse trots around the track. If the horse gallops, he’s disqualified.

Saddlebreds, known as the “peacocks of the show ring” are used for fancy showing. They usually have riders in beautiful English top hats and tuxedo suits riding full seat while the horses prance around the ring, doing all kinds of beautiful high-stepping manuevers in a trot gait.

When these two breeds of horses retire, they are often sold at auction to the Amish who need a horse trained in “trotting,” not running full speed ahead.

So when you see an Amish buggy, watch the gait of the horse. He will usually be walking slowly. If he shifts into second gear, you’ll see a high stepper. And if you see him in third gear, he’s out of control, and the driver will be doing his best to get his steed back into the trot.

Marsha Hubler
(Writers’ Blog)
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books


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