Friday, October 12, 2018

The Big Stage

My wife and I took a day-trip to the Percheron World Congress in DesMoines, Iowa this past week.

That's the "Big Stage" for Percheron horses.

I took some pics and videos of the Six-horse gelding hitches.

This picture above was shot a few seconds before the one below.

It kind of gives a time-lapse effect. You can see that I got as close to the action as possible.

The view from up high is better for the overall picture... but I like to be right there to feel the thunder of all those huge hooves.
 The photo above shows a few of the six-horse hitches being looked over by the judge. Three to four teams came in the area at a time. There were seventeen six-horse hitches in this gelding division. In the photo below you will see the top four teams. At one point they brought all seventeen hitches into the arena for the final awards. That is a whole lot of horsepower all standing in close proximity. It may look simple to an outsider, but if just one horse blows up things could get wild in a hurry.

My two favorite hitches came in 1st and 3rd. I really loved these six geldings in the video below. They were perfectly matched and super calm.


 I told my wife during the competition that the Young Living Hitch was going to win. That's the horses in the video below. She can verify that I called it!!! LOL. The Young Living Hitch did not make one mistake that I could see, and they were so powerful and lively. They won, and totally deserve to be World Champs!
By the way, a group of around fifteen-or-so Amish folks was sitting behind us. The Amish in my area would not take in such an event but other Amish groups are more lenient. I'm gonna guess that those Amish either had relatives showing horses or had raised some of the horses in the show.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Horsing Around

 For this blog post, I decided to share a few pictures of people enjoying their horses! You will see a mixture of pics with Amish and non-Amish folks "Horsing Around."
This man seems pleased to give us a look at his amazing stallion.
 If you want to enjoy a buggy ride, head to Shipshewana, Indiana. The price might have gone up since I took this pic about 3 years ago. At the time, an Amish man gave the tours and I believe he still the one taxying people around.

 These horses are showing off their raw power. At least one Amish man is taking in the sight.

 The Budweiser Hitch is a joyful sight to behold.
 These young folks are having fun getting horses ready for a show.
 This is a fun pic... but actually, the gal is a horse chiropractor and busy doing her job.
 This little girl is as cute as her pony. She is bathing it at the Iowa State Fair.
 These Amish sisters are enjoying some horseback riding.
 If you have a team, it's fun to hitch them up and drive around the farm.
 My little granddaughters love sitting on my draft horses.
 These Amish sisters love taking their ponies over some jumps.

 Amish folks enjoy seeing beautiful horses in action. They seem to love horses as much or more than anyone. Like cowboys, Amish people work with horses almost every day. People that do, seem to develop a deep connection and understanding with them. I know some people are bent on showing Amish as harsh with horses. I can't defend the whole group any more than they should condemn all. Almost all of the Amish I know personally (and I know many) treat their horses with deep respect and are amazing horse handlers. 
 This pic was taken during a photo session for a book cover.
 (Yep, that's me, my daughter, and my horses)
To see the results, click on this link: Catbird Singing

 This Amish gal trained her horse to lay down.
 I love this pic of my three grandchildren sitting on my sweet, old mare, Karma.
 A very old pic of my daughter sitting on one of my other favorite mares, Sal.
(Yes, that's me holding the lead rope.)
Many of these pics have appeared in other posts on the Amish Horses Blog. They all seem to fit together under the heading of, Horsing Around.
Sweet eyes!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Amish Getaway

My wife and I recently enjoyed a wonderful Amish getaway!

I can't offer you a whole week on an Amish farm like the Heller family experiences in my novella Amish Park, but I have a great suggestion.

We spent a weekend in Shipshewana, Indiana. Let me tell you what to look for and offer ideas about where to stay, shop, and eat.

We stayed just a mile or two north a Shipshewana in one of these little log cabins.

Shipshewana North Park Campground

They were about the same price as an average hotel room and so cute!

The sound of horses pulling buggies can be heard as you sit on the front porch.

I have no connection with this campground and I'm not getting anything for suggesting it... I just want to help you enjoy a fun Amish getaway.

After waking up and savoring a cup of coffee on the porch swing, head on into Shipshewana for a family style meal.

We love the Blue Gate Restaurant located at the only stoplight in downtown Shipshewana.

Be sure to try the Amish peanut butter on homemade rolls. I promise you it is authentic and exactly what you would have if you visited an Amish (on the farm) church service. Some of the cooks and servers are actually Amish.

For entertainment: There are usually plays depicting Amish life on stage at the Blue Gate Theater

Downtown Shipshewana has several shopping malls and a plethora of gift shops to stroll through.

You will see Amish buggies clip-clopping past as you walk. Not to mention Amish families shopping alongside you.
This display (these are dolls about two-foot tall) of Amish girls playing volleyball is in a front yard between the campground and the restaurant. Amish young people LOVE volleyball and they are good at it! (Notice the girl rising above the net to spike the ball.) Almost every one of my books mentions Amish teens playing volleyball because it is a huge part of Amish teenage life. Check out my books. They are authentic, based on my nearly forty years of experience in an Amish community.  Author Thomas Nye

My favorite thing to do while visiting Shipshewana is driving around the countryside.

You will find scores of Amish owned stores that welcome the public. These businesses are scattered around the area on Amish farms.

Take time to drink in the beauty of Amish farms in the area. (And they are BEAUTIFUL.) Listen to the wonderful melody of horse hooves and the rumbling of buggy wheels. It has to be about my favorite sound in the world. If you are interested in Amish life, I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Amish (Horses) Paradise

 If you love horses... you need to visit Shipshewana and the surrounding area.

My wife and I visited Middlebury and Shipshewana last weekend and for me, it's an Amish Paradise!

Draft horses are everywhere! I saw a few Percherons but for the most part, the Amish here use Belgians.
 My wife is not horse crazy like me. However, she enjoyed our drive that lasted for hours... I mean hours! There are miles and miles of Amish farms. Gardens with vegetables and flowers. Hundreds of shops to visit in town and on Amish farms. Buggies coming and going to and fro. Amish people on bikes. Little children driving ponies. Yes, I kid you not, it IS an Amish Paradise!
 Pastures were lush and green.
 White houses and barns set off the green fields.
 Fences and horses are close to the road in areas.
Streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes make everything even more heavenly. This is the area that inspired my novella, Amish Park. A story about one modern family's experiences as they vacation on an Amish farm. This part of Indiana is an Amish (Horses) Paradise!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Famous Without Knowing It

 If you follow my blog, read my books, or if you "Like" the Amish Horses Facebook page, then you know about Karma and Karla, my team of Percheron mares. I purchased these horses from an Amish friend of mine. Thus, the Amish Horses title. These mares were raised and trained on an Amish farm. They are full-sisters born one year apart. Karma and Karla have never been any further than a ten-mile radius from where they were born. Yet, they are known the world over! Not because they have fancy blood-lines or perfect conformation. Their claim to fame stems from having huge hearts.

 Obviously, you can't see their hearts or personality in a photograph. (Well, maybe you can?)
The way people have come to know these horses are through my books. Karma, Karla and their niece Coke inspired a book series titled The Amish Horses Series.
This set of books share the adventures of sixteen-year-old Lenny Gingerich as he leaves his city life behind and spends time with his Amish relatives.
Lenny's Amish grandpa teaches valuable lessons about life and horses. Lenny learns even more about life and himself from a team of Percheron horses named Tug and Train. My books have been read in several countries. The Amish Horses blog has been viewed by thousands of people all over the world. Without Karma, Karla and Coke, I wouldn't have a story to tell. Their pretty faces are why people click "Like" on my photographs. They have been the subject matter in hundreds of pictures, including several book covers. They were recently filmed to appear on a TV show. (Stay tuned and I'll share more info on that later.)
When it's all said and done, Karma and Karla are just an ordinary team of farm horses. However, that is what makes them so special. They are just real! 
(They probably have seen a camera more than most Amish horses.)
Karma and Karla take us back to the good-old-days of family-farm history and have enriched people's lives all over the world.
And they don't even know it. (Or, maybe they do?)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Plowing with Horses

 Although I've had draft horses for years, this is the first I've owned a sulky plow.

This past April, I purchased an Emerson plow at the Kalona Draft Horse Sale. It is probably more than 100-years-old and works amazingly well.

A "sulky" plow has one plowshare (digging blade) and a seat for the driver. (as opposed to a walk behind style)
There are also "gang" plows which have more than one plowshare. In my novel Under the Heavens, main character Lenny drives a "gang" plow with six-horses. Unfortunately, I tell the readers that he is driving a "sulky" plow. I mention and correct the error in book II, Catbird Singing. If you have read or want to read the Amish Horses Series, this blog post should help you visualize what plowing with horses is like.
After I got my plow home, I needed to come up with a tongue. This type of plow needs a tongue and mine didn't have one.

 I stopped in to visit one of my Amish friends. He and his boys dropped what they were working on to search through their collection of old plows for a tongue that I could use this spring. They plan to make a new one for me before next summer.

This tongue is longer than I need for two horses. It was made for a six-horse-hitch. I had to add a section of chain-links so I could use it.

You may notice that my furrows aren't that straight.
Well, I'm a novice.
I have plowed with a six-horse hitch on an Amish farm. However, they set everything up and gave clear instructions on how to proceed. This time I was on my own.

My experiences of plowing with a six-horse hitch on an Amish farm are shared in detail with my readers in the Amish Horses Series.

 You can see a light section of soil that was plowed a few days earlier. The darker area was just plowed, and I finished up the grassy strip after I snapped this photo.
Karma and Karla patiently waited while I took pictures. They are 18 and 17-year-old sisters and happy for a break in the action.