Bad experience with Amish horses... - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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Bad experience with Amish horses...

Horses I primarily own/work with are rescues in need of serious repair (usually mentally as well as physically). I've worked with several horses that came from the Amish and have been absolutely terrified of people... Once, I was leaving an auction and I observed three or four Amish men attempting to load a weanling. It wouldn't get in, so they proceeded to beat the crap out of its behind with a stiff whip... I was disgusted.

All the Amish-broke horses I've worked with have the same eye, and the same attitude. They are reluctant, wary, and stressed the entire time I'm around them. A lot of the drafts that didn't make it as cart horses (I'm assuming) won't let you go anywhere near their rump, and God FORBID you swing anything back there (be it intentional or not). My experience is that they break their spirits, THEN they break them to ride. They may not all be this way, but the ones I've dealt with have been.

There's only one horse that wasn't like this: A big Belgian named Mac. He was pigeon-toed from pulling before he was fully grown, and he had terrible ground manners, but he was such a derp that he probably didn't care whether he was being mistreated or not.

I understand that horses are very important to the Amish way of life, and they are vital 'tools' to their lifestyle... but seriously, I'm sick of these abused horses with broken spirits (which take forever to mend, mind you, if they are fixable at all).

My question is this: has anyone had similar experiences?

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post #2 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 04:11 AM
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hmmmm this is interesting. To answer your question, no I havent but I am aware that they feel the horse is a big part of their life.
Not that I am trying to condone their behavior but if you think, they are set in what the 1800's? And if you think of how everyone would have treated their horses in the 1800's their behavior would be typical....
Its just a thought

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post #3 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 06:01 AM
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No.

The horses I know that were Amish trained are good reliable creatures. No broken spirits, etc.
I actually had my first ever driving lesson last night using a pony whose previous job was with an Amish family.

Quote:
He was pigeon-toed from pulling before he was fully grown


Or he was pigeon toed because that was what his conformation was and he would have been pigeon toed if he never did anything but stand in a pasture.


I will never get why so many people assume that everything that is different with a horse is the fault of some evil action on some abusers part.


Just because the Amish do not treat their horses like huge expensive pets like we do does not mean they (general they, because we all know there are bad people in every sector) are abusive asshats. Their horses are a necessary tool. It behooves them to take care of them.


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post #4 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 06:20 AM
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Just because the Amish do not treat their horses like huge expensive pets like we do does not mean they (general they, because we all know there are bad people in every sector) are abusive asshats. Their horses are a necessary tool. It behooves them to take care of them



I agree totally
The amish around here treat there horses ok. No they don't get nice plush sawdust stalls and baths etc. But they are taken care of. The horse to the amish are thier main tool. Some take better care of thier tools than others. I have seen different areas of Amish living and you have the lesser and the better off. It reflects in thier houses,buggies,harness and horses... It's people that have no respect for animals period that abuse them...Wether Amish,Mendonite or us..

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post #5 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 07:01 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind View Post
Or he was pigeon toed because that was what his conformation was and he would have been pigeon toed if he never did anything but stand in a pasture.

I will never get why so many people assume that everything that is different with a horse is the fault of some evil action on some abusers part.
Erm, no, that's not what I assume. That's what I was told by the person who got him from the Amish.

I don't assume they're all like that. Definitely not. But every horse I've dealt with (probably because I primarily deal with rescues) that has been Amish-trained has been wary of people. I just can't get what I saw with the weanling out of my head whenever I think "Amish," but I try my best not to think all of them are like that...

Working with your horse should be like dancing: Someone must lead, but you must both work together to accomplish what you want.
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post #6 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 08:01 AM
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"The Amish" are individuals just as all other trainers are individuals.
I've seen good and bad - whether Amish or not.

As far as my experience specifically, my current boy spent a while learning to drive under the Amish, and he most definitely has NOT had his spirit broken any. He has the most "personality" of any horse I've owned. He's also one of the friendliest horses I've ever known - always coming up to you, checking you out. Thinks EVERYONE wants to be his best friend - whether human, horse, deer, or skunk (yeah, the smell is finally gone ).

On the other hand, I was at the auction a few weeks ago, and a little mini was there being sold by the Amish. For a few hours before the auction right up until its sale, it spent almost the whole time trotting around the arena pulling a large cart with several children. He was puffing, dripping sweat, pinning his ears, and never got a drink of water. The ONLY time he got to stop trotting was when someone walked up to ask them a question about the horse (the few of us there together were going to start a round, have each of us go up and ask a few questions - just to give the poor thing a break). When someone mentioned that they should probably give him a rest, they responded "Oh no, we do this all the time. He's fine."
That horse probably isn't going to trust people for a while. I hope he found a good new home (we were really tempted to bring him home ourselves, but didn't think our BO would go for it ).

But the bottom line is, there will always be trainers who treat horses well, and there will always be trainers who treat horses poorly. Culture, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc don't determine whether someone will be a good or poor trainer. Training, knowledge, and understanding of horses does.
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post #7 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shenandoah View Post

But the bottom line is, there will always be trainers who treat horses well, and there will always be trainers who treat horses poorly. Culture, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc don't determine whether someone will be a good or poor trainer. Training, knowledge, and understanding of horses does.
Very well said!
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post #8 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 09:58 AM
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Annalie was Amish trained. She's a wonderful horse. Definitely never had a person beat her. I think some Amish are good with horses while others aren't.
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post #9 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 10:27 AM
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There are some Amish in my area, but I have never personally dealt with any or any strictly Amish trained horses. I do know people who swear by Amish farriers, leatherworkers, and trainers. Its not unheard of for someone to send a green horse to the Amish to be saddle-broke, and then take care of subsequent training themselves.

While there are certainly cases of poor treatment of Amish horses (not that this makes them "special"... horses are mistreated every day by non-Amish), there is a strong economic motivator for the Amish to take care of their horses and to keep them healthy and strong. Their livelihood depends on "horsepower" in many cases - it just isn't logical to destroy something that essential. To draw a parallel, it would be like a non-Amish person going out to the garage and purposely ramming the family minivan into the wall a few times. Will it be as reliable? No... you might not get to work in the morning.

No, working Amish horses are not pets - they have to earn a living. If they don't, it's a waste. Coming from a farm background myself, I learned early that unproductive livestock that must be supported rather than contributing to the farm don't stay around long, my horses being the major exception. Again, to draw a parallel, its the same as if a pizza delivery company has a fleet of 5 cars, only uses 2, yet legally must pay insurance on the 3 idle cars. Its probably more profitable to sell the 3 idle cars and not have to pay for their isurance and upkeep.

Going back to the question of ninteenth century horsekeeping practices, at that time horsepower was supreme, and most horses did not have the luxurious lifestyles that most enjoy today. Then, as now, there were brutal and benevolent owners, riders, drivers, and grooms, but the horses still had a task that they were expected to perform. If they didn't, the owner effectively threw money out the window - something that the average person could not afford.

The working lifestyle was evident in the shorter useful lifespan of horses. Not too long ago, a 13 year old horse was considered to be nearing the end of his productive life - a 30 year old was quite ancient. Now, horses perform beautifully well into their 20's, and the 30 year mark is becoming less novel. The same extension in life expectancy can be seen in humans as we have moved from a lifetime of hard farm labor to a majority (in developed countries, anyway) holding less physically demanding jobs. Modern medical care plays a role for both as well, no need to discount that.

I'm not condoning ill-treatment by anyone, and sorry for the novel, but this is an issue that I have devoted some thought to in the past, from the perspectives of economics, history, and horsemanship. The Amish livelihood depends upon the horse as a capital good: a means of production - even under the best of care, such use has an effect that is generally not seen in recreational horses.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #10 of 97 Old 09-23-2010, 10:30 AM
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Excellent post, Scoutrider. Very eloquent and succinct.
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