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Controversial Treatment of Horses by the Amish
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Controversial Treatment of Horses by the Amish

The Ordnung is an unwritten Amish code of conduct stressing virtues of humility, obedience and simplicity. The pacifist Amish oppose any form of violence. The penalty for violating the Ordnung is shunning by the family and Amish community. The threat of being shunned along with religious values guarantees that the majority of people in the Amish culture abide by the Ordnung.

The Amish are prohibited from owning or driving an automobile. There are contingencies that allow Amish people to ride in a car for select social and business functions. The Amish ride in horse driven buggies instead. Therefore, most families in an Amish community will own buggy horses. A large number of Amish families farm the land and own plow horses as well.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania animal enforcement officer, Karen Dinkel, received two animal cruelty call incidents to Costco on July 11, 2011. The plaintiffs stated that each horse was overheating in the scorching sun. The Amish owners of the horses deny any mistreatment. The horses were examined by veterinarian, Dr. Andrew Ellis. Dr. Ellis believes that one of the animals suffered slight dehydration and colic. Colic may occur in horses during any season. Dehydration may sometimes trigger colic. The veterinarian does not believe that the horses were mistreated. Costco agreed to build shelters on the premises for horses.

Larkin Vonalt wrote an article titled, "The Truth about the Amish." In the article, Vonalt discussed the fate of Amish plow and buggy horses. According to Vonalt, when the horses have served their usefulness, the Amish ship the horses off to slaughter houses. The article states that the Amish practice shaving the forelocks for the convenience of bridle checks. The forelocks aid the horses to shoo flies. The article complains that the Amish regularly leave buggy horses tethered with the check rain fastened and still in traces bearing the burden of the buggy for hours.

Today, most people consider horses as a pet, for show and for recreational purposes. Tracy Schumer in an article titled, “The Amish and the Modern Horseman,” believes that the Amish see horses as a tool. Schumer compares the Amish horse to automobiles. Americans drive an automobile until trading it for a newer version or until the car is ready for the scrap heap. Most people consider automobiles as an investment. Most automobile owners have the oil and filters changed regularly, tires rotated and abide by a regular maintenance schedule. In an Amish community, horses are fed, given access to plenty of water and offered a dry place to sleep. The Amish family takes care of sick or injured horses.

In conclusion, Schumer believes that the majority of complaints concerning the treatment of horses by Amish people to be a difference of opinion rather than abuse. The veterinarian in Lancaster disclosed that the horses were not mistreated in the 2011 Costco incidence. Horses with shaved or short forelocks will find it difficult to shoo flies during the summer. The code of conduct in the Ordnung would prohibit Amish people from displaying violent behavior towards a person or animal.


Photo courtesy of Tom Soyer Our Days as uploaded by Cadfael1979 on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. Of Horse Support
    Of Horse Support
    Here at Of Horse!, we're all about connection and community. We believe in free speech and passionate discussion. We'd also like to keep things substantiated and positive, which is why we invite anyone who might have a rebuke of items discussed in the above article to submit a post outlining arguments in a fair and respectful way. We'd like to remind writers and commenters alike that the Comment Section of OfHorse.com is not to be used to aggressively attack or insult our community members. Please. Be honest. But keep it kind.
    1. Tenneyson
      Please understand that this article was intended to show both sides of the debate and was not stating the author's feelings. Thanks for your comment Of Horse Support.
  2. jst4horses
    I thank the author of this article, and the comments below.........I have the habit of not getting pets without the intention of keeping them forever.......I have what I call the three day rule, for dogs and cats, for horses it is much shorter.......if the animal needs a vet and the vets says euthanize, it breaks my heart, but I trust my vets, they are friends. I donate to their fund for spay and neuter, so they can help pets in their clinics with financially strapped owners.............I donate to horse rescue funds for vets to care for horses for owners who do not have the whole amount to keep their horse up. I have done horse rescue and evaluations for the animal shelters for decades. We often help care for a horse, dog or cat until a new home can be found if finance or death or illness of the owner makes that necessary. We have volunteers who go help disabled and elderly owners, for free, just to help the animals and owners. I struggle with the thought of sending a horse to slaughter, yet know that many of these horses work well into their late twenties and are loved by the families.................Amish, just like any other group, have not so great people. so we all have to keep a watch. I would like an assurance that all Amish horses that go on roads have the same shoes and leg support as parade horses...........these are new times, Old days, the roads were ALL dirt, and I HATE to see any horse jogged or run on a hard road surface. I stop and say something............BUT most Amish are well aware that running or jogging on hard roads can split the bone and the horse will be in agony for weeks before it heals, and of course, be lame.......so even if selfish......they do not want the horse to be lamed up for weeks, or have to be put down........I know many ranchers, show riders, race barns, etc that sell or give their horses to jerks who really are slaughter fronts...................it is sickening. Many show riders or kids going off to college just pass their poor horse on to any sick idiot who wants it............so there are many who do not take the LIFE of a horse into consideration when they get one. This is a well written article that does bring out a subject that is hard on horses..........it is a great place to open discussion. Some Amish do see their horses as trucks, might as well buy a truck..........in my mind at least.....others love and take great care of their animals for life.
  3. Elizabeth Seabrook
    There was a new conversational treatment that was especially for horses it was start by the DR Amish he was the famous doctor. If you want to get more details on this so visit https://www.aussiewritingreviews.com this site it was belong to the hospital and have all the data about this project.

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