Has anyone else bought an amish buggy horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Kingston, Ontario
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Has anyone else bought an amish buggy horse?

Hi All,

I recently purchased an 8-year old gelding, who was used as a buggy horse by the amish. He is not as obedient as some people say amish-trained horses usually are; he leads well, stands well, picks up his feet, is good when walked by the road with cars, but he does get jittery when he stands, gets jittery when new horses call to him, and gets jittery in his stall. Has anyone else bought an amish-trained/used buggy gelding, and re-trained to ride? I'm not looking to do anything fancy with him, just trail riding. We lunged him today to see how he moved and tried some common commands used by the amish, he's not so good at that, we asked him to pick up the trot, which he did well, but he had a lot of stored up energy and picked up a canter out of no where, came back down from it when we called out "whoa" a few times. Would love to hear everyone else's experiences with amish-broke horses! He went through an auction and we bought him from the meat-buyer, so we don't have a lot of history on him!

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post #2 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 08:01 PM
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Hi and welcome,
A lot of amish buggy horses are standardbreds that did not make it at the track. If you horse has a freeze brand, on the right side of his neck then he was a race horse. He may not be amish trained but track trained. A lot of amish get them because they are pretty sane and already trained to buggy's they are also use to traffic and sounds.

A lot of standardbreds make lovely trail horses. He may be nervous and marchy on the cross ties but should settle in a few minutes. Its not because he is afraid or has never been on cross ties, in fact he has probably spent a lot of time on them. How long have you had him?

I would start him undersaddle slowly. In my opinion, a lot of people rush them. They are use to having harness equipment around them and as a result they don't have a problem with the saddle. Its that a lot of people don't spend time teaching them things like under-saddle skills like having a fast and slow trot. They don't teach them how to have a collected and smooth canter. Its all these things that are introduced on the ground before a saddle is thrown on them. If you have never trained a standardbred or a horse I would suggest working with a professional and focus on how they are encouraged to canter. Standardbreds have been taught for a long time not to canter, they are not encouraged to canter at the track. So, depending on how long they have been on the track can indicate how they react to being ask to canter. I had someone teach my off the track standardbred to canter by standing at the center of a 10 foot circle and hitting him with a lunge whip until he cantered. Its been two years and he is still a bit frantic at that pace and you pull out a lunge whip and he gets worried. He is much better but if I had my choice that would not have been my choice on how to teach him to canter.
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 08:15 PM
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I work with a standardbred/Perch cross from the Amish at a therapy barn, I've also worked with a number of draft horses bought at auctions in Penn. I'm not going to get into that.

As for being jittery, yes many of those Standardbreds are quite hot, the Amish actually need to abide by a speed minimum on many streets to avoid causing car accidents and such, so the horses need to be hot. Which is how our therapy program got that cross, she wasn't fast enough. Many of the horses are encouraged and expected to move at least at a fast trot all the time. So this will take time to unteach your horse. Most, when they realize they don't need to run, are relieved. It just takes time to let them realize.
I find many Amish broke horses are very rein-reliant and really have little to no understanding of seat or leg cues. Obviously there are exceptions, but as most are primarily cart or plow horses, riding skills aren't commonly reinforced. So remember to sit heavy, soften your body, and lots of half halts to help ease him back to a more comfortable trot. You'll spend a LONG time going through that, release pressure when he's trotting calmly and lots of half halts, heavy seat and calm body to keep him soft. He'll probably go very well on voice commands. Often they use "G'ip" and "woah", try to avoid using the word "Easy" as most horses are put on edge by the sound of that word, "eeeeassssssy" it's just hissy. A low, deep "woooaahh" is more effective.
They also tend to have little to no bendabilitiy, they'd rather take big wide turns, tight turns confuse and make them uncomfortable. So this will probably take time for him to learn too, don't expect him to be spinning or anything any time soon :P

Sounds like you have a good fun horse, but quite a project ahead of you. It just took a month or so to get the therapy horse up to par, but she was a lazy girl, not a hot one like yours.

The draft horses I've worked with I drove most, most didn't know how to ride but would tolerate someone sitting up there and steering them. They're very used to the shafts hitting their sides so they don't really understand leg commands at all, since they've been trained to ignore it. The love of my life Belgian I got riding great in just a short time, but again a lazy type.

Good luck, keep us posted and We Love Pics!
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post #4 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 08:53 PM
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welcome to the forum

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post #5 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 09:54 PM
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Welcome...we love pictures to post some if you have them :)

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post #6 of 19 Old 09-21-2012, 11:16 PM
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The horses on the track are very rein reliant. It's not the Amish who make them this way. A friend bo't one and it was total confusion between the two of them. She wanted to train the usual ways and he understood none of it. He wanted it how he'd been trained which she couldn't figure out.
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-23-2012, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses!

He doesn't have a freezebrand, and he's not as delicate looking as the standardbreds I've seen, huge neck on him, but not draft-like hooves, no feathering either. I'll post a picture when I get one for sure! He walks well on the road, but as soon as he thinks he's going to the field his tail starts going up and he wants to pick up a trot, which, while he does have a lovely trot, is not ideal for being led around. We were talking and said "hut" and he tried to pick up a much faster speed, so I guess we won't say that again! We'd like to get him going through all his different gaits in hand (he does seem to know them all) before anyone gets on him. While we've only lunged him the one time, it was apparent that he needs to burn off some serious energy before we can try again, the barn owner is just putting up some higher fences, because he's quite large at 16.1, and the fences were built for ponies. I will keep everyone updated and post pictures!
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-23-2012, 09:43 PM
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This is interesting. Keep us posted on how things are going.
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post #9 of 19 Old 09-23-2012, 10:43 PM
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They also use a lot of saddlebreds. You might be confusing the two, because most of the Standardbreds I have met an seen have been thick and massive(for saddlebred people, we use standies as roadsters in our shows). They are built for power and speed, whereas the saddlebreds are fine and much more delicate. You just might have a standardbred. Some Amish also breed, so if there is no brand he might not be registered and might be a cross.
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-24-2012, 08:48 AM
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I would second him either being a Amish bred or cross horse. I met a sweet but not that bright standardbred/percheron cross out of the Amish. They sold him because they had no clue what to do with this big horse and he was afraid of his shadow. Do you have someone (like a trainer) to work with? It might be that your horse is needing time to settle. A horse out of the Amish may not be that terribly different then one of the track and it might benefit from a few weeks of just relaxing and being a horse.
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