11 Jan

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.

Leave a Reply