5 Things That Might Surprise You About Amish Buggies
Popular Mechanics recently published an in-depth look at the Amish buggy. The main source for this story was an unidentified Amish buggy maker in Lancaster County, PA.
Amish buggies have all sorts of technology built into them, from the lighting, to the brakes, to the suspension system. As article author Matthew Jancer writes:
You might have thought the technology inside this 1800s method of transportation stopped progressing right around then. Instead, buggy tech keeps advancing, and buggy makers have become electricians and metalworkers to build in all the new tech you can’t see under the traditional black paint.
I pulled out 5 interesting facts about Amish buggies from Jancer’s article. Find those below.
You can also read the article in full, with more tech detail, here.
One caveat to keep in mind is that buggies in the Lancaster community are going to be more technologically advanced, and more expensive than buggies in other places.
5 Things You Might Not Know About Amish Buggies
- You can order luxury options on an Amish buggy, including a speedometer, cup holders, and a propane heater
- Brakes on Amish buggies are usually drum-style. However a few use disc brakes built for dune buggies
- To power lighting, buggies may be loaded with batteries (electric drill variety), including spares for long journeys. Someone recently attempted a buggy alternator, but according to the buggy builder, “it never took off”
- Some buggies are now made using thermally modified wood. This means they “cook the livin’ daylights out of it” to reduce it to near-zero-percent moisture. This makes it rot-resistant
- The buggy maker estimates the average cost to be about $8,000 (here’s a more expensive example, priced at $9,861)
That doesn’t count the upkeep of a horse, which an Amish friend recently quoted at around $5/day (so in the $1800 annual range). And as he noted, that tab is running round-the-clock, whether you drive or not.
You might be wondering, how long do Amish buggies last? The article ends with this interesting quote from the buggy maker:
“A lot of people will get 20 or 30 years out of a buggy before they do any major rebuilding of it. There’s a strong demand for good used buggies because of youth. Most people will buy their 16-year-old son a horse, a harness, and a used buggy. And then we have people who trade in their buggy every five to eight years. It’s like the mainstream world. A lot of these buggies will be running 40 or 50 years, rebuilt several times.”
Last summer during the many Amish auctions I attended I noticed the air bag suspension introduction. In place of a stack of steel leaf springs, a half gallon size rubber air bag, one front and one rear, were installed. Disc brakes are becoming common on these $16K buggies.
Amish Abuse of Horses
So Rene, if you’ve seen them “literally worked to death” did you make a police report? Do you have any direct evidence of this? As a police officer, I take those allegations very seriously so, if you can’t back up the comment with some hard evidence but are just assuming that working a horse is abuse, don’t make such allegations. Horses have been put to work for thousands of years. It makes no sense to spend the money to purchase, train, house, and feed the very resources that make you a living by “working them to death” as you suggest they do, does it? So, as I’ve stated, unless you have some real evidence and specific incidences that you can put to paper in a written statement for a police report, do NOT make allegations and accusations you cannot prove. If you do have that evidence, then my original question remains; have you filed any police reports?
I’m waiting for lowering kits and custom widened wheels. 🙂 I’ve already seen buggy drifting and REALLY loud stereo systems. Oh kids these days. 🙂
I’ve heard those systems as well Jeff 🙂 What often catches my eye are the stickers and emblems on the back of youth buggies:
Thanks for posting this. I read the article from Popular Mechanics that was linked and found it interesting. As I was reading it, I was thinking of my Swartzentruber Amish friends, as well as some from the Kenton, Ohio affiliation (both very conservative affiliations). I’m going to show the article to them and ask how their buggies are in comparison to the ones mentioned in terms of brakes, lights, cost of buggies, etc. I think there are quite a few differences — theirs seem much plainer/simpler, and not as expensive as the Lancaster ones.
Wow, great idea Al. If you hear something interesting and feel like sharing, you know you’re always welcome 🙂
From the photos I’ve seen, and what I’ve read, Swartzentruber and Kenton buggies use kerosene lanterns hung on each side at the rear of the buggy (or on just one side for some of the most conservative Swartzentrubers), while their brakes are mechanical ‘block brakes’ that press on the outer tire of the wheel, rather than pressing on the hub like the hydraulic drum brakes used by more progressive Amish.
You are right. I believe all the Swartzentruners etc. in our area use two lanterns now, based on what I see, but it has not been that long ago some only used one. We see many Swartzentruber buggies in our area where one lantern is mounted high on the side while the other is low in the box. I guess the idea is the two very uneven lights are supposed to get attention that this is a buggy.
The block brake is used by them as well. One type of brake I have not seen on here is the “cable brake.” The fairly large Andy Weaver group uses those. They look at lot like the hydraulic brakes and work on the same idea as far as the brake drum goes, but instead of hydraulic fluid, the brake pedal tightens a cable that expands the brake pads.
So much for not getting attached to materialism
The expensive buggies seem a contradiction to their doctrine of not getting attached to materialism. Do they REALLY need radios, air bags, cup holders? These are “creature comforts” I’d imagine the more conservative groups shun. Still, safety should always be first and foremost and, if getting high tech means being safer on the road, I’m all for it! I’d actually LOVE to have one of those buggies in Oregon but they don’t have roads that would accommodate buggies.
You make a good point about expensive buggies and materialism. The buggies described are very different from the buggies used in many communities. It’s all relative, though. I am with you on the radios & airbags… but I like my cup holders! 🙂 Heading out on the road on a cold winter morning, I like my travel mug of hot coffee in my buggy! Back to it all being relative, there is a huge variety in how buggies are made. I might think the features on the buggies in the article are over-the-top, but more conservative groups are going to say the same about my windshield wiper and buggy clock or maybe even my windshield in itself. Safety is important, too. I don’t have air-bags, disc brakes, etc., but I do have lots of lights. The buggy I use the most often has 9 lights on it plus a row of little LED lights along the top of the buggy-front. Someone using only buggy lanterns is going to feel that’s too much, but I consider it practical & safe. Probably most people feel their group’s buggy standards are the most sensible.
So good to hear from you! I pray all is well with you and yours. YES! Safety is a must and I’m glad groups are willing to step out of the comfort zone and allow for lights, etc. that allow the drivers of cars to see the buggies easier. The style of buggies is a personal thing I think, more than a doctrinal one, as I think more about it. The fact that the group is using buggies at all, instead of cars, is the doctrinal issue. I don’t think that adding fancy bells and whistles changes that. They’re just enhancements that I think the English equate with a more materialistic outlook. It’s really no different than when I get a car; do I really need to buy the fancy name or am I more interested in just getting around in a reliable vehicle? I actually wanted to ask you about driving a buggy/carriage/wagon in snow or muddy conditions; is there anything now added to buggies that wasn’t before, that prevents getting stuck or sliding. Are studded tires allowed or little chains? I ask because I’d love to have a mule-driven business and where our land is the roads are unimproved. How do the Amish buggies deal with that? Thanks Mark and God bless!!
Hi again, Kiki. 🙂
I’m going to try and paste your questions in here and answer them… I wish there was a way to add italics or bold type, but if there is, I’m not sure how.
The style of buggies is a personal thing I think, more than a doctrinal one, as I think more about it.
I’m not sure if I totally understand this… The type of buggy you drive is dictated by the church you belong to. So everyone of our church people has a buggy that is basically the same as far as color, shape, and basic features. Some are more “decked out” than others, but those are minor things, like upholstery choices, extra lights, etc.
The fact that the group is using buggies at all, instead of cars, is the doctrinal issue. I don’t think that adding fancy bells and whistles changes that.
They’re just enhancements that I think the English equate with a more materialistic outlook. It’s really no different than when I get a car; do I really need to buy the fancy name or am I more interested in just getting around in a reliable vehicle?
Looking around any large group of buggies, you can soon spot the difference between “this buggy gets me to where I want to go” and this buggy “gets me there in style.” It’s fair to point out the more conservative the group, the less likelihood of variation.
I actually wanted to ask you about driving a buggy/carriage/wagon in snow or muddy conditions; is there anything now added to buggies that wasn’t before, that prevents getting stuck or sliding.
Not that I can think of.
Are studded tires allowed or little chains? I ask because I’d love to have a mule-driven business and where our land is the roads are unimproved. How do the Amish buggies deal with that? Thanks Mark and God bless!!
I have never heard of studded tires or chains. Winter horse-shoes have drill-tex or whatever it’s called (drill tech?) on the bottom that allow the horse better traction. The horse is the key to driving on slippery roads.
The snow or mud has to be pretty bad before it’s going to affect buggy travel. Ice is much more of a problem. Our surrey has brakes on the rear wheels; our single-buggy has them on the front. Front turns out to be better, in my opinion. Going down a steep icy road with rear brakes, the hind end of the buggy is more apt to slide around. Because the horse is hitched to the front axle, front brakes seem to work better because it’s not locking the wheels so they slide.
On really icy steep roads, it’s “hang tight, stay calm, and hope for the best.” 🙂 No, that’s a bit exaggerated, but really, on icy roads you have to be careful and rely less on your brakes and more on skilled horse handling.
And even then, it sometimes goes wild. Last month we had a very icy Sun. morning and I was not sure if we were smart to go to church, but we figured our steep road would be salted & cindered. I should have walked our long driveway to check… As it turns out, our road was NOT salted or cindered, which we discovered when we pulled out on the road and our headlights were shining down our mirror-like road that was unmarred by ANY tracks. It was too late then to turn back, for by that point we were on the pavement and headed downhill and braking was touchy — a little bit too much pressure and the back of the surrey started sliding for the ditch. So, hold the horse back and keep her and my passengers calm (and myself) and try to brake the right amount and we kind of slid, skated, and skied down our hill without mishap and we were thankful for that AND our sure-footed horse who stayed calm and under control.
Another family was not as lucky. Their surrey started swinging around and they came down part of the hill backwards, the horse being pulled by the surrey! Fortunately the surrey hit rough patches beside the pavement enough for it to stop and allow the driver to get his horse headed downhill head-first.
Later in the day we saw salt & cinder trucks going in REVERSE so they could salt where they were going to drive.
Once again Mark you’ve answered my questions and then some. Thanks so much and be SAFE!! Give your horse a big hug and scratch behind the ears for me!
You’re welcome. I’ll try and remember to give the horse some extra attention for you. 🙂
Doen’t they also build buggies with Fiberglass bodies, I was reading that once maybe even on this website.
Some communities do have buggy-boxes made of fiberglass. In our group, the main frame is wood but the dashboard (inside & out) is covered with a sheet of fiberglass.
Fiberglass buggy bodies?
Thanks Mark for sharing what your group does. The most plain groups in Holmes Co wouldn’t use fiberglass at all, would they?
Also, Urs for what it’s worth here is the description from the article giving the Lancaster County perspective:
The main body is fiberglass. It’s pre-manufactured off-site and shipped to Amish builders across the country for finishing. They add aluminum components to areas that see a lot of wear, such as door sills. Everything else is white oak or ash wood framing stretched over with fabric, plusher linings for interior surfaces, and a tough polyester for exterior surfaces, all to save weight.
Thanks Mark for sharing what your group does. The most plain groups in Holmes Co wouldn’t use fiberglass at all, would they?
The more conservative groups in this community (the several Swartzentruber groups and Abe Troyer group) do not use fiberglass that I have seen. The rest of the groups do, though buggies made for just utility, like the top-hack used to take small livestock to market, might not have fiberglass dashes and there may be older buggies on the road that were built before it became common.
Thank you Mark!
You’re welcome, Erik. And thank YOU for what you do here. 🙂
Thanks Erik, That must have been were I have read about the use of Fiberglass!
Kudos for those lights!
We live in southern York County, across the river from Lancaster PA. We have a growing Amish population here and we’re learning to keep an eye out for Amish on the roads whether they’re walking, riding in buggies or driving farm equipment. Last week I almost rear ended a huge horse drawn tobacco wagon on our road at dusk in heavy fog with no lights of any kind. Luckily, I was driving slowly with the fog, because that wagon appeared right in front of me before I knew what was happening. I followed it at 3 miles an hour for quite a ways before we parted ways. I hope he didn’t have much farther to go, because it really wasn’t safe for him to be out there in the dark with no lights! I’m thinking he and I were both praying for him to get where he was going safely!
Mark I have a question, the brakes buggies have are they mechanical or like cars have mechanical/hydraulic system? We hat an old Haywagon (or hayrack) in Switzerland that used to be horse drawn and had mechanical brakes. There is a video on youtube that shows a very similar wagon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgbnSyltoKY This film was made in the Emmental Valley which some Amish came from.
Mark I have a question, the brakes buggies have are they mechanical or like cars have mechanical/hydraulic system?
There are groups who use a mechanical brake, but our buggies have a hydraulic brake much like in a car. A foot pedal is in the bottom of the buggy-box on the driver’s side. I push on that pedal to operate the brake, braking a little amount to help going down hill or with a lot of force if I wish to stop completely. The horse must stop, too, of course, but at a stop-sign I might brake hard to help keep the horse standing still. There is a brake system under the buggy-box that holds the brake-fluid, etc. In addition, we have brake locks. If I stop and unhitch on a slope, I can lock the brake so the buggy won’t roll after the horse is unhitched. Does this answer your questions?
That does answer my question. And it is always interesting to read your comments on this site!
About Amish Buggies
Hi everyone, Yes, I do know English sorry for my last comment being in my preferred language. I was in a hurry and oh well! I am also all for safety, and first and foremost, I as a (now former) driver of a Chevrolet (the thing died in April 2016, I have moved nearer to the city, so it’s not even necessary that I own a car any more!!)I have to side with the Amish on this one: a car is dangerous no matter how you slice it, and if someone is motoring along and not paying attention (amazing how many mentally poverty stricken folks get behind the wheel–so poor they can’t even pay attention…)or fiddling with their phone, it’s easy enough for a pedestrian like myself to have a few near misses. Once a woman on a clear day in the city nearly clipped me. I stopped dead in the crosswalk (I had started before her, and the light was green, so I did nothing wrong) and she had the gall to say she didn’t see me. I wanted to yell put the blasted phone down and open your eyes, but didn’t. I thought it and a lot more besides, though!! Drivers, how often we have to remind you to be careful, you’re not the only ones on the road. Now we have lovely bicycle lanes for the maybe dozen of people I have ever seen using them. You should see the interesting near-misses now!! The car and the truck are larger, more powerful, and much more dangerous than little o’ I or the Amish person in their buggy will ever be. Consideration, careful planning as in allow yourselves more time just in case, don’t be in such a hurry that you throw caution to the proverbial wind, and as a 1950s song so aptly said it (and I freely pull it out of context just for this occasion:) “Keep your mind on your driving, keep your hands on the wheel, keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead…” Ok, I’m off the soapbox now and I believe you will get my point. Erik and everyone, thank you for this wonderful website, and as they say in Bavaria, vergelt’s Gott! (May God reward you in kind).
About Amish Buggies
I totally agree, Jakob! I think there are far too many cars out there being driven by people who can barely steer, much less drive. Cell phones have added another degree of danger for other drivers, pedestrians, and the Amish. No matter how many laws may be passed, stupidity can never be cured. I’m all for designing roads with slow-moving vehicle lanes and pedestrian sidewalks completely separated from automobile traffic. Guardrails should be utilized more and more cities should encourage the use of horse or mule-driven buggies, carriages, and wagons once again. But that would be logical so it won’t happen. I’ve worked in government long enough to know that anything that makes sense doesn’t get done!
New to the site
Erik, I am new to the site, and have been reading and watching the conversations. I have had the pleasure to live along side a couple of Amish communities. As well as maintain a business buying selling and trading with several communities that span several states . Your post regarding buggies was informative but as you may know they are as unique and individual as the people who use them. One of my main passions is anything horse drawn. I make build to order buggies, and wagons for the Amish and although each is similar I don’t think I have built two that were the same.I think I would compare them to a fine tailor making a suit for an individual. Fashioned to fit the community and tailored to suit it’s owner. I will close for now , but will say, after 30 plus years of living the “Amish experience” I find that your site to be one of the most true to fact. Looking forward to future discussion.
Why thank you, Ed. Welcome to the site. I liked what you had to share in your comment. I would imagine that with that kind of job and experience you’d have a lot of insight. Are you aware of Amish businesses like Pioneer Equipment? They make an array of horse-drawn implements, and have a good chunk of business among non-Amish. They’re based in the Holmes/Wayne Co, Ohio community. If not, it might be of interest given your enthusiasm for horse-drawn.
Thanks again and welcome back to share anytime.
Thanks for the welcome
I can assure you, I am well beyond enthusiasm. horse’s,buggies etc 6 days a week. cutting ice this week. talk to you soon.
Erik, I wanted to share some carriage pictures with mark and anyone else that may have intrest, is that permitted on the site. If so , can you please tell me how I can do so . Horse and buggy yes , Electronic not so much. Thanks Ed
Hi Ed, sure – maybe you could just email me (ewesner(at)gmail(dot)com) with them?
although each is similar I don’t think I have built two that were the same.I think I would compare them to a fine tailor making a suit for an individual. Fashioned to fit the community and tailored to suit it’s owner.
That is a perfect description, Ed!
Amish-made buggies, etc. in Oregon
Do you know of any Amish communities in Oregon? We’ll be moving to southern Oregon and wanted to start a mule-drawn carriage/wagon/hearse business there but don’t know of any Amish communities where I can purchase equipment from. I know of non-Amish makers of equine equipment, not necessarily in Oregon but close by, but not any Amish. We could sure take some lessons from them ’cause we’ll be living off the grid. Let me know if there are any communities I could contact. Thanks so much! Kiki
We enjoyed this story bout Amish made Buggies!
I found some clever ideas that I could use myself…
Reply to post
I’m not looking for a debate regarding the Amish and horses but I have to believe that you are basing your opinion on a narrow sample. I have been an animal control officer for over 30 years. I have been investigating such for that time. Here’s a few things to think about . I would say that 1 in a 1000 are Amish the balance being English . That’s not to say that there’s not pockets of Amish that have a lesser view of the horse.
Well said, Ed. I must be missing these on the post, because I could not find some of the comments that appeared on the “recent comments” section. Maybe they were removed or I didn’t look right?
Are there Amish who have a lesser view of the horse. Certainly. Do they represent everyone or even the majority or a significant percentage? No. Even if you want to cut out affection, a sense of compassion, and a sense of responsibility and just look at the financial side — horses are expensive and we depend on them very much. Financially it would make no sense to abuse or mistreat such an expensive and important animal. I try to take the best care possible of our horses but not just to get the most out of my money. I feel a duty to care for animals that depend on me and i have feelings for them.
I have seen horrible cases of horse abuse outside the Amish community. These people who get hobby or pet horses and who are ignorant of their needs or lack the time, space, and money to care for them properly. I hate to see these “hobby horses” confined to small poorly managed pastures or muddy yards and deprived of proper feeding, exercise, worming, grooming, etc. but I am also practical enough to realize that not all non-Amish people treat their horses poorly. Just as in Amish society, there can be a variation in how non-Amish people care for their horses and there are many who do an excellent job of it.
Reply to mark
Thanks Mark, I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion and respect that. As long as it is done with an open mind. If you don’t mind. I have a short story. About a year ago, I sold a nice all purpose to an Amish guy.I really liked the horse but knew that he was in need .
A few months ago, I stopped by to see if he would sell it back to me. Well, needless to say it was a walking rack.Knowing that there had to be a reason. As you may know, there are a few ways to handle the situation. So, I did what needed to be done. I went and talked to the “elders”if you will. There response was to inform him that the community would neither tolerate or be be defined by such. I know that he had just moved there a short time prior and can only assume that that was more common where he came from. I think many lessons in this. But, I recently went to see him and the horse is slick, fat and in beautiful condition ,I couldn’t buy him back for nothing. I think he has learned the meaning of what I call pride in your ride.Conformity of community and church? I will close with this. We are Amish, Not angels.
Ed, I feel you did the right thing by bring that to the attention of others. I know I personally would feel ashamed if one of our church people had an underfed or ill-cared-for horse.
Having said that, there can be a difference in horses, too. We used to have one that was a “hard keeper” and very hard to keep well-rounded. If I remember right, we even added vegetable oil & eggs to her feed trying to beef her up. We eventually bought a commercial weight-builder but she was just simply hard to keep from looking on the thin side. I guess there are people out there who can eat a lot and not gain weight, too.
Now we have the opposite extreme with our hackney-cross… Talk about a horse that should be on a diet!
Several years ago when i was in Charleston South Carolina, i was talking to a gentleman who did tours in Charleston with horse and carriage. He said they got some of there horses from the Amish in Ohio. I don’t think they would buy them if they were mistreated.
What you say about abuse is right on. I have a former Amish horse and she has a wonderful foundation of training, and has also clearly been handled expertly all her life. I bought her from a feed lot after she had been catastrophically injured in a road accident. But let me note–she was hit by a driver of a motorized vehicle.
There is a wide range of mistreatment in the non-Amish community. Sometimes due to ignorance, or delusion, but very often intentional. We had a trainer at our barn who was the latter. He ruined horses at a rapid rate, and the owners didn’t care. All they wanted was a horse that made a good show for them. Some people object to the Amish selling horses after their useful life is over, but non-Amish do the same. I have even know some people who euthanized their healthy horses when they got old. I don’t think anyone is in a position to point the finger of blame at the Amish.
To Mark and Erik , Horses
Mark , I assume that you are in Ohio. I have gotten a few nice horse’s out that way. black and chrome! with a little extra zip as I recall. My point being that not only is the buggy defined but sometimes a certain type ,color, breed etc.and yes sometimes the extent of care shows through out a community . when I am looking at a horse for resale, I will assess as to where I can market the horse
Each community has a preference. I can’t hardly give a mule away here but go a little south and it is worth it’s weight.
Yes, Ed, I am in Ohio. I like horses with lots of chrome & zip. 🙂 And you are right — preferred breeds, colors, and types can vary from one setting to the next. There are always going to be family by family differences in how horses are cared for, just like children or pets, but there is definitely a community difference, too.
Better than our Buggy's
I quite envy the Amish Buggy’s when i compare them to what we have over in our Eastern European villages. I guess thats possibly due to the cost involved however, our ones only cost a couple of hundred to buy/build. You can see an example of one in the link below
That really DOES look different from what we see around here! I can see how the cost would be an issue. There is a big difference in how buggies are made, though. Some are much more expensive than others.
How are you doing Mark, I was reading your comments about the buggies and the pictures. I don’t seem to be able to view them, but I can’t make a set of wheels my cost for 400. Let alone the hole buggy. However, the $8000 or $9000 way out of wack. I can only assume that that is English money not Amish.
Hi Ed! Ready for spring! And how about you?
The high price on some buggies is just regular American money. 🙂 The hight cost comes largely from things like fiberglass parts, very nice paint-jobs, upholstery, lighting & wiring, disc or hydraulic brakes, the top material (a lot of workmanship goes into the top cloth, curtains, etc.) windshields (storm fronts) and good workmanship. It’s all relative… I was recently surprised to talk with a guy from Allen Co., Ind., and discover their two-seated open buggies (no tops, no backrests) run around $6,000. Wow. You could buy a Holmes Co. top-buggy for that and have a roof, windshield, and seat back! A big part of the cost is the fact it’s almost all non-wood material.
Reply to mark
I am ready for spring ,but the 2 ft of snow the other day let me know I will have to wait. Here in Washington Co.Up state NY, We have a mix The newest settlement here is in Whitehall. Most have ties to Palintine ny. I am constantly reminded that as they put it we are the poor Amish. And that the rich are 20 miles away in Glen. There’s a big difference in buggies , yes some fiberglass etc. Here is all wood and repair,reuse. I recently fixed a wheel for a friend. He said, Don’t loose my wheel, I have had it for more than the 45 years I’ve been with my wife. I would say, in Glen, a new one complete black on black ,top, “lanterns” etc.4500. A new one for others, tan on black, “lights”3500.Better chance of one of them winning the lottery than buying one. I think this is why so many people have a fascination with the Amish. On the surface they appear to be the same. Get to know them , each area is different. Get to know them from within and Wow are they individuals !!!. But keep in mind that I would gladly sell you a buggyfor that 8 or 9 k .Be well my friend. hope to hear from you soon.
We had a lot of snow & cold temperatures this week too.
You made a VERY good point about variations AND the fact individual people have individual thoughts, personalities, and opinions. As for ordering a new buggy, I’m pretty well outfitted for now. 🙂 If I were to buy another buggy, it would be one of Pioneer Equipment’s buckboards. I really like the design features and quality of those! So, if I discover I’ve got $6,000 in change, I’ll be ordering one of those. 🙂 What would YOU charge for one like that?
Reply to mark
I was kidding on the sale . Not looking to solicit, I did a quick look at the pioneer buck board , added most of the options steel wheel.(I don’t do rubber).It prices out with pioneer about $4500 shipping included. I would say that I can duplicate same quality at $3500 and $4000.Might be able to do better with more specific details. I, think I can build and deliver with my horse’s for $6000. I’m ready for a road trip. Meet you halfway. I will try to send some pictures of what I am working on with some pricing for conversation only. Ed
That sounds tempting, Ed! Seriously, it would be interesting to see your pictures.
Reply to mark
I sent a sketch of the brougham 4 seater I just started, working on the running gear now. Had to work out the math to suspend the body as they typically seat 2. I will try to send you a few other pictures of some that I have finished. I just finished a double seat. The 2 mentioned are to be used in funeral services as this is what I do. A couple of them do have rubber tire, I had a few sets of wheels that I could rebuild and reuse, got to cheat once in a while. I make and use steel tire wheels as a rule. Don’t have rubber tire equipment or much use for it. Buy the way, we’re about 560 miles away, it would be about 12 hours to deliver by truck and about 14 days by horse ??
I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures, Ed.
Better than our Buggy's...WAY better!
That pic shows something very scary! It’s sad that your villagers cannot build safer buggies because what I saw was deplorable, unsafe and, I would hope, illegal. I know what it’s like to not have money for a decent vehicle but I’d rather walk than ride in one of those in the link you provided.
Still, no matter how safe and pretty the buggy is, if the drivers or the roads are unsafe, it may still end in tragedy. I believe that either Jersey barriers or steel guardrails should be used to separate slow-moving vehicles including bicycles and animal-drawn vehicles, from the rest of traffic. Maybe only then will tragedy be prevented.
Here in Hawai’i we have many crosses on the sides of roads where cyclists and pedestrians have been killed by idiot drivers going too fast or being drunk behind the wheel. Why put bicycle lanes right next to motorized vehicle traffic without separation barriers for safety? I’d gladly pay a little more in taxes to ensure that anyone who chooses to ride a bike, horse, or walk, will be safe from people who can barely steer let alone drive!
Re:Better Than our Buggy's...WAY better!
Hi Kiki, the example in the photo i linked was actually one of the safer ones we have over here, my uncle actually had one in much worse condition (his was basically a couple of planks of wood with a old car body shell thrown ontop to keep the weather out) that after he took me for a ride into town i was so scared of it i ended up buying him a cheap 2nd hand tractor which i considered to me much more safer for him to ride around on. The funny thing is my uncle actually got upset with me at first when i bought him the tractor (he thaught i was mocking him) that when i explained to him the safety aspect of what he had been riding in thats when he appreciated the gesture and is now quite happy with and enjoying the tractor.
Wow, unbelievable! What country are you in and do they have Amish there or those who live similarly to them?
I’m glad he eventually appreciated how much you care about him and keeping him alive!
Question for Kiki
I, read back on one of your posts. You mentioned that you were moving to Oregon. And starting up a mule drawn funeral service. I do horse drawn funerals here in NY, was wondering why mules. Any particular reason for that. Are you planning to go with a more country approach ? I have used mules for many other things, but the beauty of a mule escapes most.
Mezzem, that’s an interesting story! And to think the example I saw was one of the safer ones! 🙂 I had to think of an old “hack” or “spring-wagon” that he was using LONG after we felt it was no longer safe. He used it mostly just around the farm, like taking seed bags out to the field, fence fixing, and so on, but even so — it hung to one side, the wheels were wobbly, the shafts hung down when you held up one side to hitch up, and the clips on the top of the springs were shot so the whole box could shift and who knows when it last saw any paint… But he went on using it. I guess when you keep in mind he wasn’t racing with it or going out on busy roads that was less serious, but still.
Now I’m curious about the harnesses. Are they home-made? Collar versus breast strap? I need to take a closer look.
Thanks for adding some international flavor here. 🙂
Comment on conversation
Mezzem , Mark ,
I hope you don’t mind if I join in. just wondering what part of Europe. Is horse and buggy common place today. And Mark, that’s funny. I was wondering about the harness. as unique as with any location. Also, any overall preferences in horse’s. I’m guessing the European chunky work, and warmblood. Thanks Ed
Horse and Buggy in Europe
Thanks for the interest guys, i live in Australia myself but my family is from Turkey, my uncle specifically lives in Western Turkey, the region is known as Eastern Thrace. There are alot of small villages in Turkey where horse and buggy’s are still used as owning a Motor Car is very expensive, an example i can give is a 1980’s Fiat 131 they cost anywhere from about $5000 for a completely unsafe rustbucket to about $15000-$20000 for something which was garaged and taken care of.
Apart from Turkey where horse and buggy’s are common, they can also be found in parts of Bulgaria, Romania, Moldovia(especially villages around Gagauzia), Ukrane(crimean Tatar’s come to mind), also countries like Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Albania etc.
Dont get me wrong many of these countries have quite modern cities just like over in the USA and other parts of the Western World, its just the village areas are extremely remote and there is alot of poverty.
There are no Amish people in Eastern Europe, however there are alot of Romani people otherwise known as Gypsies(they prefer the name Roma or Romani as they consider the word Gypsy offensive to them), quite alot of them live in shanty towns and villages, they have there own common language, religion wise they differ according to which country they live in example in Turkey they are Muslim, in Greece they are Greek Orthodox, in Italy they are Catholic etc.
Now Mark and Ed to answer your questions on the harnesses etc, yes they are usually hand made, someone with abit more money may buy one but the majority just make them up themselves. The Horses yes as you said Ed they are the bigger more chunky type, however on occasion you will see a buggy being pulled by a donkey or a mule it all depends on what the family owns.
Kiki if you are interested there is a documentary on youtube called Tobacco Girl, its the story of a young Yoruk girl living in a village in Macedonia, alot of the Yoruk’s still wear traditional clothing, there not quite like the Amish however. In the documentary you do see some villagers using tractors and trucks however some still use donkeys, mules and horses. The documentary if your interested you can view it from here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT9t0k4BJNs
Buggies - thanks Mark!
Thanks for the information and I’ll be sure to watch that video. As an Anthropologist, I’m very interested and intrigued by other cultures and how they make do with what they have. Of course, we in America are easily spoiled and always in a hurry so we want to get places quickly. I think we all need to take our time and that cities should really try to encourage and accommodate those of us who’d like to slow down by using horses/mules/donkeys and buggies safely.
I pray your family in Turkey will be safe. God bless you!
Hi Kiki, you wrote that you are an anthropologist and are interested in other cultures. I just happened upon a couple of films on Russian Orthodox Old Believers that i think you may find interesting. They appear to be simmilar to the Amish in the fact that they tend to live traditional lives and tend to try and distance themselves from outsiders (im not sure if this is the correct definition but it seems quite simmilar to me). Surprisingly there is a community of them living in Alaska aswell.
RT Russian Old Believers Documentary
Alaska Russian Old Believers
Thanks so much for that link. I’ve read about the Russian Orthodox Old Believers too and, being Orthodox myself, was intrigued by the suggestion that they’re like the Amish in the way they keep themselves to the old ways and separate themselves from worldly things. Very interesting! I wish ALL of us could go back to the ways of our Holy Fathers and Mothers and separate ourselves more. We believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are in the world but are not of the world and we need to remember that! Too many live and act like unbelievers and aren’t the examples of living a life of faith in the Lord as they should be. The Lord said that we are the light and salt of the earth, yet we get caught up in worldly matters and behave as though we don’t even know Him! Many are busy trying to get wealthy by the world’s standards and many sound and act just like the people who get arrested, swearing and talking about things they shouldn’t. Like the Amish, ALL Christians need to be concerned about our spiritual well being; are we able to forgive like Jesus did? Are we able to love others as He did? Do we really need that fancy car or fancy house? Should we be using those words that unbelievers use? Most Christians have gotten very lazy in their spiritual lives and forget that St. Paul wrote that we need to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. The Amish and Orthodox Old Believers are examples of that!
Thanks so much Messem and God bless you,
ALL Christians need to be concerned about our spiritual well being; are we able to forgive like Jesus did? Are we able to love others as He did? Do we really need that fancy car or fancy house? Should we be using those words that unbelievers use? Most Christians have gotten very lazy in their spiritual lives and forget that St. Paul wrote that we need to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.
VERY well said, Kiki! We don’t even need a label or name of denomination here; this applies to us ALL.
This was a very interesting post, Mezzem. I’ll look forward to looking up some of the things you mentioned. Thanks!
Cost of the Horse
The article mentions the cost of a new buggy, but vastly underestimates the cost of good Amish horse. $5/day =$150/month. That is what the cheapest/poorest Ams pay in upkeep. Average cost of horsekeeping is closer to $10-$20/day. You also missed the cost of buying the horse. A good, well broke, flashy Amish horse can quickly get over $10K and it’s not uncommon to see $15K or $20K for a horse driven down the road.
A new horse, new harness & a new buggy can reach $30K quick.
To Amy -Allen Co
I’ve been following the last few Mid America sales; mainly for the Morgans, but the prices on all are AMAZING! I am removing myself from the Arabian horse show world; was never a major player, but I can guarantee the average pleasure horse breeder would be dancing in the pasture to get those kinds of prices.
There’s a few black Morgan geldings coming up in the next sale, I wouldn’t mind one coming back to Texas! 🙂
Have a peaceful and blessed day!
New this Site
Erik, I’m new to the site, reading and watching conversations. I have had the pleasure of living alongside several Amish communities. In addition to buying, selling, and trading with several communities spanning several states. Your buggy post has a lot of information, but as you may know, they’re as unique and individual as the people who use them. One of my main passions is everything horses. I do custom buggies and carts for Amish, and while everyone is similar, I don’t think I would build two of the same. I think I would compare them to a good tailor making a suit for a person. Designed to fit the community and fit the owner. I’ll conclude for now, but I will say that after more than 30 years of “Amish experience”, I believe that your site is one of the most accurate. I look forward to a future discussion.
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