My first Amish buggy ride was in an open buggy. If you click those highlighted words you can see pictures.
This time, I was privileged to ride in the typical two-seater black, enclosed buggy. 'Surrey' is the proper name. Here's a close-up of the small foot step.
Also note, the steel wheel. The Swartzentruber Order of Amish prohibit rubber tires on buggies. Bicycles are also prohibited as "worldly."
I was invited to visit the Amish homestead of Sarah and Monroe's brother. My husband, his sister, Sarah, Monroe and I drove out there on a cool summer evening. We pulled up in our car and parked. Outside the barn stood the horse and black buggy.
As we gathered around the horse, Sarah picked up the harness and adeptly hitched the horse to the buggy. I reached out to pet the horse's dark brown head and she jerked her head up. "Oh, what's wrong," I asked.
"She's a little jumpy because she's blind in one eye," answered Sarah.
Oh great, I thought, we're going out on the road with a one-eyed horse.
My husband and his sister climbed up and squeezed into the back seat. Those buggies are anything but roomy. Then I hoisted myself up by the tiny step. As I sat waiting for Sarah to join us, I examined the buggy's interior. Everything was black - top, side panels, seats, wheels, reins. No windows. No windshield.
For Swartzentruber Amish running lights, safety features, SMV triangle are verboten - nothing to warn fast moving cars. And I'm so used to a seatbelt, it felt odd not snapping one around my body. Nothing holds the buggy's occupants inside when there's an impact.
Sarah jumped up and plopped down taking Linda's reins in her hands. She looked so experienced in the driver's seat - despite some teasing from her brother. Snapping the reins, Linda responded with a jerk of our buggy. Linda trotted along with her mane wafting in the wind. Sarah laughed. I looked down at the road whizzing by three feet from my face. Too close for comfort.
Inside the plain buggy we laughed and chatted. Sarah pointed out the beer cans along the road, "The Amish youth throw those out of their buggy."
I wasn't sure which was the better seat - front or the back. In the back, Linda's "aroma" is filtered by the front seat occupants but, you'd be the first smashed if a car rear-ended the buggy. You'd probably remain inside and safer if the buggy turned over. In the front, you're first in and out, and to see all the action but, the occasional "aroma" and dust and bugs aren't enjoyable.
The familiar clip-clop of horse hoofs lulled me like a hammock's sway. I was relaxed.
Thinking back to when Sarah was Amish, I asked her, "Did it bother you to have English drivers stare at you?"
"Neh," she answered. "We were used to it."
After we trotted down a one-lane part gravel, part paved road, Sarah turned Linda around at a small intersection of two unnamed roads. We headed back toward her brother's homestead. I savored the feel and sound of riding in an Amish buggy and experiencing a touch of their culture.
Yes, it may seem simple just bumping along in a horse-drawn buggy. But as Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre observed, "The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple." To learn more about the Cost and Rules of Buggy Ownership, Click Here.
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(c)Copyright, 2014. BrendaNixon