Sharing the Road
While on the roads of Lancaster County, you can’t help but notice horses and buggies sharing the roads with our cars.
For generations, our Amish neighbors have used this means of transportation for running errands, attending church, or simply visiting family and friends. Like many of their other beliefs, the Amish prefer this means of transportation over automobiles for a variety of reasons such as slowing the speed of life and maintaining distance from the world.
Steeped in Tradition
They believe in staying local, and not venturing too far away from their families and communities. Typically, the average Amish-owned horse and buggy here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, travels in a 20-mile radius. Any farther than that, and the horse would become too tired. The Amish are not opposed to riding in automobiles as they recognize their usefulness. For longer distances, the Amish will hire an English driver. This often requires some planning and expense, drivers are limited and typically charge $1 per mile or more.
So How Fast Can They Go?
On average, an Amish buggy in this area typically goes between five and eight miles per hour. On the busier and faster moving roads, you will notice that they travel along the shoulder of the roads – we call them “buggy lanes” here in Lancaster County.
Lights on For Safety
They also travel at night, in the rain, and sometimes in the snow; so be sure to be extra careful if you encounter one. Did you know that there’s also a small battery which powers the buggies’ headlights? It’s all powered by a rechargeable battery which is nestled below the driver’s seat and situated on the exterior.
Like our cars, Amish buggies can have a wide range of prices. On the average, a brand-new buggy here in Lancaster County will cost about $9,000. There are many buggy factories right here in Lancaster County. In fact, they are owned and operated by the Amish themselves! Lots of hard work goes into each finished piece, with a typical investment of approximately 70 hours of labor.
There’s also “used” buggies to choose from, which, depending on condition, will typically cost $5,000 and up. The Amish are well known for their high-quality craftsmanship, and therefore, a new buggy could last an owner between 25 and 30 years. Several upgrades are also available to “soup up” your buggy. Items like inside carpeting or a fancy wood grain interior would certainly also increase the final price.
Lancaster County Amish buggies are gray in color, buggies in other Amish communities throughout the country are white, brown, and even yellow. Buggy color and style are one of the main distinctions among Amish communities. In addition to the standard boxy gray Lancaster County buggy you may also see open-topped courting buggies and buggies with a pick-up truck like bed.
Let’s talk about engine options, a buggy won’t go anywhere without a good horse. While the Amish don’t have any rules regarding the horse they use, most choose a standardbred. Many times, the horse is a retired racehorse, used in harness racing, that has already been trained to trot. Typically, Lancaster Amish horses are brown in color, but you may occasionally see a white, gray, black, or speckled horse as well. The horses are typically fitted with horseshoes containing carbide tips to aid with traction on pavement. A typical standardbred racehorse will run approximately $3,000. The horse would also need to be outfitted with a harness that runs upwards of $500.
Similar to a car receiving an oil change, a horse also needs routine maintenance. Between, veterinary costs, feeding, fitting horseshoes, and other related items, the annual cost to keep the horse in good condition is around $3,000.
If we add it all up a horse and buggy would require an initial investment of approximately $12,500, with annual operating costs around $3,000-4,000.
Where Can I Ride a Horse and Buggy?
We offer buggy rides on our farm on Saturdays throughout the summer and fall. When rides on our farm are not available, the buggy tour that we recommend to our guests is Abe’s Buggy Rides located at 2596 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505.
Want to learn even more about the Amish? Take a guided bus tour with us today! Click here to reserve your tickets.