Horse and Buggy Mennonite Versus Amish

The Horse and Buggy Mennonite or Team Mennonite as some call them mostly live north of 340 over the ridge of New Holland, PA down thru Weaverland Valley.  The Mennonite faith began in 1536 with a Catholic Priest, Menno Simons.  The Amish were part of this Mennonite group until 1693 when they broke off.  Both groups are very conservative, speak PA Dutch at home and are similar with slight differences.

You can tell the outward difference between the Horse and Buggy Mennonite and Conservative Amish people easily.  There are many sects of Mennonite and Amish that do not believe as the conservatives do, however, for ease of writing, in this post I will refer to the Conservative Amish and Horse and Buggy Mennonite as, Amish and Mennonite.

Horse and Buggy Mennonite Women Versus Amish Women   

The first thing you notice on the women is that their caps are different. The Amish cap is heart-shaped, while the Mennonite is more like a cap.   Both the Mennonite and Amish wear the same style dresses but the Mennonite’s wear prints, the Amish plain colors.  Also the Amish fasten their clothing with pins and the Mennonite with buttons.


The Mennonite’s have black buggies; the Amish have gray buggies.  Bikes are the way the Mennonite’s get around, and the Amish use scooters.  Both groups will get a taxi driver if they need to go somewhere that will take too long with a horse and buggy.



The Mennonite farm with tractors that have steel wheels while the Amish use horse-drawn farm machinery (also with steel wheels).



The Amish use homes for Sunday church.  The Mennonite have churches which they share rotating every other Sunday with another Mennonite group, the Black Bumper Mennonite.  Both the Amish and the Mennonite hold church every other Sunday, visiting friends and family on the “off” Sundays.

We live on the ridge in New Holland.  To our north most of the farms belong to the Mennonite while to our south most farms belong to the Amish.  Both groups are good neighbors, hard workers, good to do business with and as a whole, good people.








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The Amish and Sulky Harness Racing

Would it surprise you to see an Amish or Mennonite partake in Sulky harness racing?  They do.

You could say harness racing begins in Lancaster with the participation from the Amish and Mennonite folks.

Training horses for the Sulky Harness Racetrack
Training for sulky harness racing

Standardbred broodmare farms, typically home to five to twenty broodmares dot the countryside.  Each owner is hoping for the foal that will become the next big winner at the racetrack.

Standardbred Horses
Standard broodmare horse and her foal
Standardbred broodmare and her foal

A Standardbred horse is either a trotter or a pacer.  A trotter is a horse that moves diagonal legs together (right front leg and back leg).  A Pacer advances both legs on the same side of their body simultaneously.  Pacers have the gene DMRT3, without it they are unable to pace and are trotters.

Training for Sulky Harness Racing

In late winter, early spring, the foals are born, and within hours their training begins.  The foals are wild, and handling along with daily exposure is crucial in taming them.   At 18 months, they are ready to accept a harness and pull a light sulky.  Only 2% of the foals will become racehorses. The others are privately sold or head to an auction like the  New Holland Sales Stable.

The Amish Racetrack

Tucked behind a farm here and there you will see a racetrack.  Between 7 am and 12 pm you will see horses pulling sulky carts flying around the track.  In New Holland, there is a training-racetrack on Lowry Rd and another one on South Custer Ave.   The training-racetrack teaches the young horses to perform above the one-mile race of two minutes, 20 seconds. In Pennsylvania, there are other qualifications to race as seen in the PA Harness Horsemen’s Association.  Only one percent make it.

Once the horses qualify for the races, the owner hires someone outside their Amish/Mennonite circle to race them.  If the horse wins the owner will get a percentage of the winnings.  Sometimes well over $100,000!

However, some  Amish districts will not allow their members to own a racehorse because they considered it gambling.  As an illustration, I have a story about a neighbor, an Old Order Mennonite man that owned “contraband” racehorses.  However, he was very discrete, until he stumbled upon a real winner and in his excitement went to the racetrack.  His horse won the prize, and before he knew it, he was in the winner’s circle with camera’s clicking.  It was not until the story hit the papers that he realized his mistake.  As a result, he received an ultimatum from his church.  He could return the winnings, donate them to charity or leave the church.  I never did hear what he chose.

Lastly, I have a fact about Pa Harness Racing, although it’s at odds with the last story.  A good part of the owners and trainers have never seen an active racetrack.  Nevertheless, it is these people behind the scenes, that play a major roll in the outcome of the race. nike air max 90 damen nike air max 90 damen

Ascension Day in Amish Country

Have you noticed there are no Amish in the fields,  Amish businesses open, or Amish working today?  Today is Ascension Day, a religious holy day for the Amish.  It is forty days after Easter; always on a Thursday, a day set aside to celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven.

Ascension Day in the Amish Community

For the Amish, Ascension Day is a day of rest and reflection.  It begins with a church service in the house, barn or business of one of the congregation.  After services, the day is free for families to gather, have picnics, play volleyball and enjoy their time together.

Amish Easter Holidays

The Amish have many holidays this time of year. It all started with Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross.  Next is Easter, which is when Jesus arose.  Following is Easter Monday which is a solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death.  Ascension Day comes next.  Lastly, Pentecost Sunday and Monday which is fifty days after Easter, the day Jesus’ followers received the holy spirit.

Amish Impostors?

Why are tourist shops busy as usual if the Amish people are all home?  The reason is the Amish no longer own the main tourist shops.   Furthermore,  the “Amish” that are working today are impostors, dressed in Amish clothing making you think that they are Amish.    Did you get an Amish buggy ride today or on any given Sunday?  Once again folks, Amish impostors, the authentic Amish experience is nothing more than a joke on the tourists.

In conclusion, when making plans to visit the Lancaster Amish Country keep in mind the Amish holidays, remembering they are a deeply religious people and will not be working on a holy day.  Drive around the back roads, the small country shops and roadside stands are where you will be able to experience the real Amish culture.

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