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Questions for owners of former amish horses...

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  • #21
    Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post

    Tamara in TN, thanks for the info on logging horses. He is pony sized, so I'm kind of skeptical that he would be a logging horse? Just does't seem to make sense....but I don't know.
    well about 10 years ago when the first wave of "internet homesteading,work with horses gomers " first got going...LOTS of draft ponies got "drafted" into this work...Fjords and haffies and tiny QHs and on and on and on....they did'nt scare the cityfolksturnedhippiefarmers as much as the full drafts did...which is not to say I do not respect the folks that have always worked horses but I am less than glowing about these "other" people

    I wonder if I should be prepared for him to yank my arms out the first time long-lining?
    as an old farmer told me "honey,they can't pull with their mouth"

    no...he should be fine to long line...just don't try to micro manage him like the driven dressage people do...he won't have any idea...but he will hit a collar pretty hard IF that was truly his life before...

    you just gotta work around/with that and not deem him a "runaway" cause you are unknowingly asking him to go against all his training thus far...there is no other way to start a heavy log other than a jerk and go...now there have been some dual horses I have known who figured out the britchen meant wheeled work and a no britchen meant logs....but lots of farmers anymore would not keep two pairs of harness....

    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


    • #22
      I have one!
      He came from some very bad people. Really abused. And I think he got in a road accident and maybe at the same time got caught in wire. Anyway, no roads and doesn't get within a yard of wire. Has scars. He has harness scars too.
      Anyway, he's a huge spook, definitely not bombproof. Hence, he was sent up the river.
      He's aloof. Barely friendly to very few people. And I've had him over 5 years so I don't think that will change.
      Impossible to catch when he doesn't want to be caught.
      Incredibly logical. If it suits him, he'll deal with it. Like fans are good in summer, they make noise but he gets it and keeps the flies off him. Shots are a whole other matter. They just hurt.
      He didn't know hoses, fly spray, boots, trailers, treats, feed, blankets, petting, cross ties
      He did know voice commands (I can whisper and he pays absolute attention), lunging, tying, grooming, shoes, bridles, stalls were only feed stalls (head in corner only), streams and water, dogs, cows, chickens, and all other natural elements, he's really smart out in the field. He would be one to survive in the wild with no problems.
      We also have an amish broke draft. Big pig of a food monster. But we put a surcingle on him and 2 lunge lines and he's much more broke to that than under saddle. He's broke to tie, his ground manners kind of suck though but he really listens to you. He still thinks we are bigger than him. Tend to keep it that way. He's pretty good with voice commands, not as good as Winston though. The trainer did really well with him. He's well adjusted and knows what he knows.
      Even duct tape can't fix stupid


      • #23
        In response to a couple recent posts:

        -for whatever reason my girl has never been hard to catch, even when she was in her standoffish phase. The only diffference is at first she would just stand there and let you catch her, and now she comes to meet me and puts her head down for a rub.

        -mine has some wire or rope scars, too, but she was ranch raised out west before she was an Amish horse, so there's no way to know where or why that happened.

        Regarding the scars though - it is interesting to me that she has no fear or sensitivity about being handled near them. Three legs have scars near the pasterns, but she picks up her feet just fine. Her tongue has a big scar, but she lets you look in her mouth and handle her tongue and has no problem with the bit. I am inclined to think then that those scars came from some incident long ago where she was trussed up like a turkey, or caught in something, and she has gotten over it or forgotten it.


        • #24
          Yeah, I think twofat that there's just a difference in personalities. Mine NEVER forgets ANYTHING. Quite the arab in him (from the percheron side).
          Even duct tape can't fix stupid


          • Original Poster

            Thanks everyone who has posted so far, and keep the tips coming! I've been googling harnesses, amish horses and amish tack just to see what seems to be "standard" and as you've all said there is lots of variation. It sure would be easier if you knew exactly where they came from, but I guess that's the mystery of plucking horses from auction, whether they're amish or mennonite or other.

            Last year there was a really good mustang training blog in the extreme mustang makeover competetion where the lady seemed to have lots of good ideas...I wish I had bookmarked it because I think maybe some of the things that worked with the standoffish mustangs could help with the less-trusting former amish horses too. Seems like patience is the common thread running through all the posts.

            Tamara, you are so right about them not being able to pull with their mouths. I may eat my words, but I don't see Bill as ever being a runaway. He has still NOT TROTTED YET!! I do think part of it is that he is sore, but he has that generally unconcerned attitude about him and I think he's one of those types who has learned/decided that he's just not going to go any faster than he has to or do more than he has to. With his being black, last night after I got home at 1am and was tossing hay out, I didn't see him and hit him with 2 flakes of alfalfa. He didn't flinch...just got to eating. I do think there is some personality in there, and I caught him today rubbing his face alongside Dan's rump. It was pretty comical, but I guess those pointy hipbones do probably make a good scratching post. Dan tolerated it very well to his credit.


            • #26

              Haven' read all the replies but it was believed my first horse had been an Amish horse
              who spooked at one too many stop signs. Bought him when I lived in Chicago and he
              was my first horse (and kept him until it was time to cross the Bridge 19 years later). Was sort of green broke--yes, my trainer said he would make a better second horse than a first horse but I was in love and not to be deterred.

              He was on the slim side and got a tad harder to handle as he got fattened up and actually
              a bit over fed. Lots of Alfalfa and whole corn and not a lot of turnout didn't help. Almost
              traded him for something more suitable after he reared up one night but decided if he could intimidate me, so could the next one. Bought a couple of books on problem horses and started from square one.

              He was thought to be about six or seven years old, then later maybe twelve. Looked younger even when an old man. Sort of head shy, even more so after my trainer beat
              him with the reins one day when he shuffled a little at the mounting block with me. Getting
              a bridle on him for the next year was a very time-consuming process but patience and
              carrots got him over it to the point he would drop his head and open his mouth for the bit.

              Did not like men at all although sometimes you had to raise your voice to get his attention
              unlike my OTTB's who think the sky is falling in if you do that. Took to carrots quickly,
              was picky about apples for a long time. Was very smart and outfoxed me far more than
              I outfoxed him. Could jump the moon and with the right rider, moved like a dream. Often
              anticipated your requests rather than waiting for them. Not a good trial horse--by himself,
              everything was going to eat him. With other horses, nothing phased him and he had to be

              Came when called and knew my car and would be waiting at the gate. If he was way out
              in the field with the herd, he would mosey away from them and when out of their sight,
              break into a gallop and come running. Knew my footsteps in the aisle without my saying a

              Could be a dork and could be the perfect horse. Seemed to know when the chips were
              down and it was time to fly right. Always noticed anything out of place.

              Moved him from barn #1 to barn #2 where he got lots of turnout and lower octane feed
              and he mellowed immensely. On 24/7 turnout, rides were quiet and consistent. Was always the leader of our little herd even though the smallest and oldest horse. He was
              16.1--not exactly small. Kept order with a flick of his ear and a roll of his eye.

              Barn #2 had quiet male barn help and he eventually made up to them, even giving the one
              hugs. When DH came along, he accepted him quickly.

              He never was a head hugger and didn't like his ears missed with at all. Barn #1 thought
              he had been hit in the head in his past from the way he would act if something went wrong.
              I used to fall off a lot in those days and he would stand and just freeze in place.

              When I moved him to Colorado, had the opportunity to put him in harness and the gentlemen with the harness ground drove him and let me try it. He thought Fudge had
              more years in harness than under saddle. Said Fudge didn't seem to know his voice commands but suspect in his earlier days that they may have been in a dialect.

              Learned a lot from him and although we never made my showing goals, wouldn't trade
              out time together. Still miss his hearty hellos from the barn and his hugs. A friend in
              Chicago who had been around horses all her life and been a trainer in New England in her
              youth wouldn't get near him at first. After a year or so, she commented he had done
              a 180-degree turnaround in his manners and personality.

              In about our fourth year together, he was tied in the aisle getting new shoes. The farrier
              had stepped away to the mens room, and I was stooped down wrapping an ankle that
              had a bit of strain from trying to outrun a former racing Arab in the outdoor ring. Thunderstorms were in the vicinity and suddenly very large hail started hitting the metal
              barn. Horses were freaking out in their stalls (he was tied to one in the aisle) and he looked
              down at me and I looked up at him and just kept wrapping--he never took a step or moved
              a muscle.


              • #27
                We've had a couple of them and are picking up another pony tomorrow. I sold my daughter's cart pony who was her 4H project to my lesson student and they absolutely love him. He's a really steady guy and nothing bothers him.

                The Amish cart ponies can be stand offish at first but once they realize what treats are they will follow you anywhere. They tend to be hard to spook and whoa is definitely there. The ones that I have come across may have been ridden but don't have much finesse. Also, canter can be hard since it's really not a gait that they are worked in.

                Care definitely varies but I was in the New Holland area earlier this week and noticed that all of the buggy horses that we saw were in good weight and looked healthy. I treat my horses as pets but then again, I don't have to use them for transportation. The new pony is a Standardbred pony who has road shoes on and his feet aren't the best. The foot was shaped to the shoe. He's dirty and grungy but walks, trots, canters, and whoas like a champ. Hopefully he's a diamond in the rough.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by JetsBuddy View Post
                  We've had a couple of them and are picking up another pony tomorrow. Hopefully he's a diamond in the rough.
                  Ooh, what are you getting? Any pics yet?


                  • #29
                    I bought my first horse off of the road in 1974, have bought a bunch since, and I have several who spent time with the Amish in the barn right now.

                    I just want to say bless you for taking him on. The information you have gotten here is in keeping with what I have seen. Generally, the horses are shocked that they get all of the "extras" that our horses take for granted.

                    I have a black gelding here right now who was sold to the road as a four year old. He is now six. He was pulled from the kill pen at Mel's sale by Christy of AC4H, after she called me, and asked if I could take on another one. He came in extremely ill- and emaciated. He is now healthy, and gaining weight- finally.

                    One of the funniest things he does is when I am grooming his pasture buddy, he will come over, and try to push him out of the way, and have his turn- NOW! It makes me all warm and fuzzy to see him caring about life, once again. When he got here, he was so ill and poor, he had almost given up I think. Now, he has some 'tude coming back!
                    When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


                    • #30

                      I've always gotten better results by giving voice commands in a "manly" voice. All the Amish horses I've dealt with (driving horses) tended to tune out a higher voice, but really pay attention to the lower registers.
                      I can definately agree with that because although my Draft mare wasn't owned by the Amish, she was taught to drive by Amish and mennonite men and they definately don't pay as much attention to a woman's voice initiallly.

                      Also, someone said it perfectly.. just like people and cars.. some take better care of their equipment... and that's exactly the way the Amish and the farmers consider their animals and livestock.. equipment. Not pets, not fuzzy pasture ornaments... equipment. Not a good philosophy nor a bad philosophy. So because of that.. some folks really care more about their horses than perhaps even "english" do because it is such a valuable an asset to their livelihood and mode of transportation. Some folks blanket, regularly groom, worry about girth sores, feed grain, etc. Some do nothing to really care for the horse, run it into the ground, w/o shoes on the road, etc. then sell it and get another near freeby at New Holland and start all over again.

                      Try not to generalize about Amish just as you would be making a mistake about generalizing about all horse people, or English riders, or so on...
                      Pao Lin


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                        Ooh, what are you getting? Any pics yet?
                        We are getting a 13.2 hand chestnut Standardbred pony. I am buying him from a farm that got him from a horse broker. The broker took him in trade for a full size Standardbred from a Mennonite farmer whose kids outgrew him. The lady at the farm where we are getting him from said that he has gained about 75 pounds in the almost month that she has had him. He rides well (W/T/C and backs) and drives like a dream (so I've been told).

                        Here are pics I took the other day when I went to see him:
                        He's grubby, straggly, and dirty plus he needs more weight and some attention from the farrier (long toes and road shoes all the way around). Hubby loaded him a few minutes ago and he's in the trailer on the way home as we speak. He desperately needs a good scrubbing. It's going to be warm this weekend so hopefully we can get that accomplished. We did a partial trade on the pinto pony mare that dumped me last week and the lady is really happy with her. She plans to breed her to her Vanner stud. Hopefully this will all work out.


                        • #32
                          Chiropractic work can be helpful

                          My trainer rehomed a few ex-amish cart horses with some students - they were all pretty good horses that showed no real problems. The one thing that did help with all of them was some chiropractic work.

                          Of course, chiropractic can help pretty much any horse but (and here comes the 'I know very little about driving or the amish' statement): with these horses, in my observation, the driving that they were doing put more pressure on their backs and they muscled up differently than if they were ridden. When trying to build up the right muscles for riding, the chiro was incredibly helpful for their comfort.

                          Just my two cents.


                          • Original Poster

                            JKBD, I desperately want to have a massage therapist and chiro come out and work on Bill. Dan's a little too bony yet. I'm waiting until after castration/dental work/vaccination visit though to see the monetary damage. I think AC4H got enough donations to cover Bill's gelding fee, but Dan is going to need some teeth pulled. I'll be able to work it in the budget, it's just a matter of when...gotta do the big stuff first.

                            ASBstars, that is heartening to know yours went from such bad shape to an attention hog. I can almost hear Bill thinking when I bring the carrot bag out...Dan comes over right away whether I have carrots or not, and Bill follows but stays just out of reach. He watches Dan eat a carrot and takes a step closer, then another, and by Dan's 3rd carrot Bill is asking for his. I can't wait until he comes out of his shell.


                            • #34
                              Shoulder Sweeney

                              Amish horses get an uncommon yet lame condition called Shoulder Sweeney. This is due to the harness they use is directly over the Superior Scapular Nerve (above the spine of the scapula) and impedes the nerve and blood supply to the surrounding muscles which will atrophy over a few months. If that happens, no treatment, including chiropractic, will do much good. The key is to adjust and treat the muscles (massage, deep tissue muscle work) before you notice muscle atrophy. Sweeney also occurs when horses get kicked in that area or lay down on one side for too long, like following surgery. Normally, a full blown case of sweeney is a permanent front leg lameness condition.

                              Daniel Kamen, D.C.
                              author of
                              The Well Adjusted Horse


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Cubs View Post
                                Amish horses get an uncommon yet lame condition called Shoulder Sweeney. This is due to the harness they use is directly over the Superior Scapular Nerve (above the spine of the scapula) and impedes the nerve and blood supply to the surrounding muscles which will atrophy over a few months. If that happens, no treatment, including chiropractic, will do much good. The key is to adjust and treat the muscles (massage, deep tissue muscle work) before you notice muscle atrophy. Sweeney also occurs when horses get kicked in that area or lay down on one side for too long, like following surgery. Normally, a full blown case of sweeney is a permanent front leg lameness condition.

                                Daniel Kamen, D.C.
                                author of
                                The Well Adjusted Horse
                                That's a wacky name for a condition. Is this from a certain type of ill-fitting collar, like the big draft collars?


                                • #36
                                  Good luck with him, he's a cutie!

                                  I have to admit when I see references to Amish horses, I can't help but picture a Luddite equine who wants nothing to do with trailers, clippers, or any high tech vet equipment.
                                  Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
                                    That's a wacky name for a condition. Is this from a certain type of ill-fitting collar, like the big draft collars?
                                    Not as wacky as it's origin. You see, Sergeant Gaylord Roost of the U.S.cavalry in 1843 used to slap his horses on the shoulder for luck before a battle. One time he slapped one of his horses so hard it started to limp and it's knee swung. So they called it a "Swing-Knee." Then as the years passed the term eventually slanged into Sweeney.
                                    But I'm a little more formal and would like to see it named after me and changed to: ImpingementOfTheSuperprscapularNerveEventuallyCaus ingMuscleAtrophyThenLamenessAsDescribedByDr.Kamen.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Cubs, I'll be sure to have my vet thoroughly examing bill for

                                      Is there a directory of equine chiro/massage practitioners somewhere? I think I recall a thread before looking for some in my area and there weren't a lot of names that came up...off to search...


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                                        Cubs, I'll be sure to have my vet thoroughly examing bill for

                                        Is there a directory of equine chiro/massage practitioners somewhere? I think I recall a thread before looking for some in my area and there weren't a lot of names that came up...off to search...

                                        find 'referrals' then scroll down to find your state


                                        • #40
                                          They tend to be very shy(horses), and are looked at a car, not a commodity. They may not be into treats, and loving on.

                                          They are good at standing still for a long period of time. The amish wehre I am vary with care of horses. Some do the grain route, and others just do hay.
                                          Insignia MC - Spanish PRE mare
                                          Tuggy - RIP at the bridge (9/12/2016)
                                          Theodore the Boxer - RIP at the the bridge (10/5/2017)