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Amish Horses: Breeds, Treatment, and Uses.

Last updated: September 10, 2022

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

I was driving through the rural countryside of Pennsylvania when I saw a family traveling on a road. Seeing them up close was a unique experience, and I wanted to know more about Amish horses.

The most common horse breeds used by the Amish are Standardbreds, American Saddlebreds, Belgians, and Percherons. Standardbred horses are ideal for pulling Amish buggies, and large draft horses are used primarily for farm work such as plowing fields and hauling hay.

I was glad to have had the opportunity to meet these kind people and learn about their culture. But I was especially interested in the horses, so I gathered as much information about them as possible. So, read on to learn more about these hardworking animals and their role in the Amish community.

Picture of an Amish horse pulling a carriage.
it:Utente:TheCadExpert, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Common horse breeds used by the Amish.

The Amish are a group of people known for their simple lifestyle and horse-drawn buggies. While the horse breeds used for buggy-pulling and heavy work may vary from region to region, the Amish horses are typically retired Standardbred racehorses and American Saddlebreds used for pulling buggies and large draft horses for heavy work such as plowing, hauling heavy wagons, and dragging timber.

Standardbred horses

Standardbreds are fast horses that are often used in harness races.

They were developed in the United States in the 19th century and are the most popular breed used for harness racing in North America.

Picture of a standardbred horse

Standardbreds are known for their speed, stamina, and calm disposition, which makes them ideal for pulling Amish buggies on busy roadways. Standardbred horses are typically chestnut or bay in color, with white markings on the face and legs. They stand between 15 and 16 hands high and weigh between 900 and 1,100 pounds.

American Saddlebred

American Saddlebred horses are a breed of horse that was developed in the United States. They are known for their high level of intelligence, versatility, and athleticism.

Picture of a saddlebred horse.

American Saddlebred horses are a popular breed among the Amish community. There are a few reasons for this. First, American Saddlebred horses are used to pulling carts. They are typically used in harness racing. In addition, they are docile and gentle. This is important to the Amish, who value peace and tranquility.

Second, American Saddlebred horses are very strong and hardy, able to pull heavy loads. This is helpful to the Amish, who often use horse-drawn carts and carriages.

Finally, American Saddlebred horses are very versatile; this is ideal for the Amish, who want to be able to use their horses for both farm work and leisurely rides. In short, American Saddlebred horses are a perfect fit for the Amish lifestyle. They typically stand between 15 and 16 hands and weigh 900 to 1,000 pounds.

Belgian Horses

Belgian horses are a draft horse breed developed in the Ardennes region of Belgium.

They are known for their large size, strength, and docile nature.

Picture of Belgian horses.

Belgian horses were originally bred for agriculture and forestry work, but they are now also used for riding and driving. Belgian horses are usually chestnut in color, with a flaxen mane and tail. They stand anywhere between 16-17 hands tall and weigh about 2,000 pounds on average,

Belgian horses are a prevalent breed among the Amish because they are strong, very intelligent, easy to train, and have a calm temperament making them an ideal choice for the Amish way of life. In addition, Belgian horses are relatively easy to care for and have a long lifespan.


Percheron horses are a type of draft horse that is known for its strength and intelligence. Originating in France, Percheron horses were initially used for hunting and war.

Picture of Percheron horses.

Today, they are primarily considered a large draft breed but also popular as riding and show horses. Percheron horses are usually dark bay or black, and they typically stand between 16.2 and 17.3 hands tall these large horses typically weigh over 2,000 pounds.

They have muscular bodies and large bone structures, which make them ideal for draft work. Percheron horses are also known for their calm dispositions and willingness to please, which makes them a popular choice in Amish communities.

The Amish people have a long history of using horses for transportation and farming. Horses are an essential part of their culture and way of life. They use horses to pull their carriages and wagons and to plow their fields. The horses are also used for transportation between villages.

Picture of Amish farmers working their horses.
Ernest Mettendorf

Why Amish rely on horses.

The horse has long been an important part of Amish culture. Not only do they provide a means of transportation, but they also play a role in farming and other aspects of daily life. There are several reasons why the Amish rely on horses for transportation. But it is primarily based on their principles.

The Amish are a religious group that follows the teachings of the 16th-century Swiss reformer Jakob Ammann. They are known for their simple lifestyle and their use of horses for transportation.

The Amish believe that technology enslaves people and that horse-drawn vehicles are more environmentally sustainable. While the Amish way of life may seem old-fashioned, it is based on centuries-old traditions.

In 1815, a group of Amish immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, where many still live. The Amish way of life has remained relatively unchanged since the 18th century. Families live in small farmhouses and work together to raise crops and animals.

Children attend school in their community and learn trades from their parents or other community members. Amish women wear simple dresses and cover their hair with bonnets. Amish men wear plain clothes and grow long beards.

Some Amish sects do not use electricity or modern conveniences such as cars or telephones. Instead, they rely on horse-drawn buggies or bicycles for transportation. The Amish way of life may seem strange to outsiders, but it is a deeply rooted tradition that continues to thrive. Currently, there are Amish communities in more than 30 states and Canada.

Amish horse care

The horses used by the Amish are an essential part of their rural traditions and way of life. They are typically general-purpose horses used for farm work and pulling carriages.

Amish horses are considered a valuable commodity, and the Amish people take great care in training and caring for them. The Amish have a deep respect for their horses and believe they are partners in helping to maintain their traditional way of life.

Do the Amish shoe their horses?

One question often asked is whether or not Amish horses are shod. The answer is that it depends on the horse and the circumstances. Some Amish do choose to shoe their horses, particularly if the horse will be traveling on icy roads or working in rough terrain.

However, many Amish do not shoe their horses, as they believe it is unnecessary and can actually cause more harm than good. In addition, horseshoes can be expensive, and the Amish prefer to use their resources for other things. Ultimately, whether or not an Amish horse is shod depends on the horse owner’s preferences and beliefs.

Why do Amish cut horses’ tails?

One of the most distinctive features of Amish horses is their short, neatly trimmed tails. While this may seem purely aesthetic, there is a practical reason. Amish horses are often hitched up to carts and wagons.

Their tails can get caught in the reins or rigging, which could startle or injure the horse and cause them to bolt. By keeping their tails short, the Amish can prevent this from happening.

In addition, a shorter tail is easier to take care of and less likely to harbor parasites or dirt. For the Amish, who value practicality and self-sufficiency, a cut tail is simply a sensible choice.


Amish horses are an integral part of the Amish community because it is used for transportation, farming, and other needs. The horse is a reliable mode of transportation that can help the Amish community get around without using cars, which is not allowed in many sects.

Below is a YouTube video of Amish horses in action.

YouTube video