My Amish Buggy Ride

One Summer evening, around sunset, we visited Monroe and Sarah's brother -- who is still Amish. While at his farm, 15-year-old Amish Enos, who had been visiting, was ready to leave the property. "Oh wait," I called out to Enos. "Can I have a ride in your buggy?"

Enos grinned and invited me to jump on board his open buggy. This type is used for hauling hay and other bulky items, similar to how we use a pickup truck. He hitched up the horse with ease and deft while I sat awaiting my ride on the single, wood bench. I carefully inspected each detail and the large wooden wheels. Swartzentruber buggies must use wooden wheels with a metal band. Rubber tires are against their rules.[Click to Tweet that] Enos lit the side lamp on the buggy and climbed up to join me.

He grabbed the reins and snapped them across the horse's back. With a slight jerk we took off circling the gravel path surrounding the farmhouse and barn. Then he shook the reins and the horse started trotting. Holding the reins to the left and to the right, the buggy swerved to each side, the back wheels skidding slightly.

"Enos!" I screamed half laughing. That ornery boy was having fun with this city English woman. "I'm not in the mood to die tonight!"

He looked bemused. Didn't slow down.

"Hey, you think people might take me for Amish?" I asked.

He gave me a sideways glance. "Neh."

"Well, maybe if I wear a bonnet."


"What would give me away?" I asked with a snicker.

Enos quickly scanned my clothes. "Maybe the shorts an tank top." We cantered around the barn with the cool night air combing my hair. Occasionally I looked down at the ground whizzing by and wondered about the safety of traveling in an open buggy--no seatbelts or safety features. Swartzentruber Amish are prohibited from any safety features--including the slow moving vehicle (SMV) triangle seen on farm equipment and other vehicles. One lamp is permitted to guide their way through the night.

"Whoa," Enos soothed the horse as we slowed to a halt. What rare fun! He hoped down--Enos faster than me--and I backed out putting one foot on the tiny step of the buggy. We stood chatting again with Monroe, Sarah, and their brother. With good-humor, they teased me about the "fast" buggy ride and occasionally exchanged words in Deutsch.[Click to Tweet that]

Enos climbed into the buggy, held the reins, and with a "chck" out the side of his mouth, the horse took off. "Guten Nacht," he called out. We continued to talk until it became so dark we couldn't see each other. The three of us said our goodbyes to the brother and climbed into my car.

Driving down the darkened road I spotted a tiny glow ahead. As I neared the glow, I recognized Enos riding his open buggy on the single-lane country road. As a mom, I was concerned for the boy's safety. I know the Amish are familiar with their back roads and alert to approaching cars but, my heart wanted to follow him to assure his safe arrival home. And I hoped--still do--that drivers are cautious and patient.

In an upcoming post, I'll write about my second buggy ride in the typical, covered black buggy. Come back to read more true stories. And in my upcoming book, I'll share more ex-Amish stories and details about the Amish. I'm an educator, what can I say? I love to teach.

(c)Copyright, 2013. Brenda Nixon


  1. Oh, what fun, Brenda! And Enos is definitely a typical 15 year old boy. All mischief! Can't wait to read Buggy Ride part 2!

    1. Thanks Dali. It was a fun experience & I agree with you about Enos :-)

  2. Hey, Brenda, as usual, your retelling of your buggy ride glows with warmth. A thought just hit me. When I spoke with my African American friends about more mingling among us and getting to know others, they said a big issue is that whites invite them to our functions, churches, etc, but we don't often go to as many of their gatherings, church, funerals, etc. I love how you go to the Amish. Thanks for sharing your mom-heart for the Amish.

  3. Love the personal feel of this story--and love that you were brave enough to take the wild ride! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sounds like fun! Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. I had a similar experience with my Amish friends. I had only known them for about 2 weeks when I got a call from my friend and she asked if I wanted to come help 'drive cows' from their spring pasture to their summer pasture. It's about a mile down the road with two turns. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I piled my kids into our vehicle and headed their way.

    When we got to their house, we got in the buggy and headed down the road to their spring pasture site. Once we got there, I saw the menfolk waiting for us on horseback and the 50 heifers or so we would be driving. My friend's husband called out a warm greeting and welcomed me. He is such a kind-hearted man. I joked with him about 'what are all your friends going to think about me, and Englisher, helping out!?" He laughed and said, "Who cares?!"

    So, off we went. The kids, theirs and mine, walking alongside the herd keeping them in line. My friend and I in the buggy leading the herd, and the menfolk behind the herd picking up stragglers and wanderers. The kids, theirs and mine, were barefoot, laughing, chatting away like old friends, having a great time.

    I have extremely fond memories of that day and know how unusual my relationship is with my Amish friends and how uncommon of Amish THEY are-