Amish are not all the same. Each person is an individual.
by Mayleen Snyder on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 4:14pm
As someone who has Amish friends, I am hurt that some people might think ALL Amish to be cruel, abusive, cold-hearted people. They're individuals, just like you and I. There are good ones and bad ones. If I showed you the movie "Deliverance", would you assume all people from the South are crazy, violent sadists.... no, of course not. So I implore you not to paint all Amish with a broad brush either.
One of the trainers I use is Amish. He's well educated, goes to others' clinics, and follows the Horsemanship Through Feel approach. He's the kind of guy you send a horse to when everyone else fails. I was fostering a Rescued Belgian that every other trainer said "put him down". One Horse Whisperer type trainer had the horse over a month with no improvement. This horse was originally dumped in Knickerson's (a non-Amish broker) NY kill pen. I was willing to keep the horse retired on my farm indefinitely because he was too "difficult" for anyone else to handle safely. But I feared for him: if he ever got an infection/injury on his on back legs, I'd be unable to check or treat him. Even with the vet's tranqs, he would not let anyone handle his back legs or tail.
My (nonAmish) vet and a (nonAmish) local Frisian farm owner both told me to try this Amish trainer named Sam Smucker. I hesitated because everyone said Amish were so harsh. Faced with having a horse the farrier could not trim vs trying an Amish trainer while I watch - I took the chance and tried the trainer. Within a session the horse was listening. Within a few days, the horse who NOBODY could ever trim the back feet even with vet-administered trans, was now a horse starting to stand for hoof cleaning. Within a week he let people pick out all his feet. By week 2 he was getting full hoof care. And in a month's time, he went from a defensive scared animal sure people were just going to harm him, to a calm guy who now understood what people wanted & that nobody would injure him again. I sincerely believe Sam, the trainer, saved this horse's life in a way. And he did NOT run the horse to exhaustion, unlike one of the big-name famous clinicians I went to go see. He was just kind, gentle, and patient - day after day - and knew how to make the horse understand.
My farrier is also Amish. He does not sleep with his sister. His family does not sell puppies; dad is a welder and his brothers work in a wood shop. He does go to regular horse clinics, so he's as educated as any of the English farriers around. He trims our local Rescue's horse at a discount, and he does training sessions with them as needed at no charge. He found a horse someone else wrecked (bad suspensories), and he had her on his farm, resting, for as long as it took to find her a good home. He trims horses that the local [nonAmish] farriers won't; when many horses arrive at the Rescue they don't know how to stand quietly yet, but at the same time they're often grossly overdue for a trim. I've never seen him raise a hand in anger to any horse or his own pets. In fact, he's been kinder to the horses than another farrier (non-Amish) who would hit the horse with a rasp!
If what we want is better treatment for animals & people, then I hope that's the goal of the Amish facebook groups. In my opinion, it's not constructive to cultivate hatred towards an entire subset of people simply because they had a different culture.
Puppy mills: Yes, Amish breed dogs for money. But Amish are very respectful of laws. All we need is for PA and a few other states to ban puppy mills, and the Amish would get out of the business. And, if you think about it, it's not Amish they're selling to. Those $500 purebred dogs are bought almost exclusively by us "English". My local town pet-shop always has many cages of papered and mixed-breed dogs for sale - shop is run by non-Amish and patronized 100% by non-Amish. Keep in mind too that the groups most aggressively opposing dog-protection laws are NOT Amish. Amish don't hire lobbyists.
Buggy horses: We can't ban Amish from using all buggies unless all Americans are willing to do the same. Are we working to ban Standardbred racing? How many broken-down racehorses end up in bad places - and if so, why is it taboo to talk of banning racing? If it's extreme to ban use of any horse in harness, maybe the real problem is the manner in which the horse is driven. Many state laws created exemptions for "farm" or "working" horses from basic horse welfare protection. In other words, *we* allow it to be legal. Average Americans, not Amish, wrote and passed these laws. (And interestingly, racehorses are also often exempt from some states' equine protection laws). It is you and I who vote in the people who write these laws. The Amish have nothing to do with crummy animal protection laws or poorly funded animal control departments.
Horse Slaughter: the commercial horse slaughter trade is something we invented to make money from foreign meat corporations. Amish aren't the brokers bidding against the individuals at auction to fill tractor trailers of horses to go to Mexico. Most of the horses I've seen dumped at New Holland are dumped by English: tons of quarterhorses, failed show horses, boatload of grade horses that would be no use for the amish. I used to see lots and lots of dumped racehorses up until recently - thank goodness at least some TB racing tracks care where trainers dump horses. The vet who works at the sales but somehow won't see severe lameness & disease is non-Amish. The tractortrailers loading around the side are all driven by nonAmish. Walking the parking lots, you'll see tags from all over the east coast and beyond.
Child and domestic abuse: Abuse of weaker members of a society happens among all groups. Instead of turning our back on the Amish, I propose offering support for the victims. Let's identify the attackers and bring them to justice. If we create a culture of hate between our society and theirs, won't that isolate the victims further?
And, by and large, who is the biggest abuser of animals? The 249,000 Amish raising food for themselves on their own little farms? Or the multi-national nonAmish corporations who raise BILLIONS of animals in overcrowded, sick, factory-farm conditions, then ship and butcher them in not-so-kind ways? It's the non-Amish American who supports fur farming, factory farms, dog-fighting rings, extreme rodeos, foie gras, and gestation crates.
Thank you for hearing me out. I do agree animals never deserve to be abused. I just hope we can balance that passionate love for protecting animals with the understanding that people are not "evil" based on which version of Christianity they practice or what clothes they wear - every one is an individual.