Thursday, May 21, 2015

Amish Horse Trivia

Did you know that many Amish buggy horses began their careers as racehorses? Yep!

       Standard-bred horses have been carefully developed over the past several hundred years for sulky racing. At one time this was a huge attraction at local fairs. Almost everyone in the old-days drove a buggy and admired a good horse that could move really fast at the trot. When you see a jockey sitting on a horses back during a race, those horses are galloping. That galloping motion is not desirable when a horse pulls a cart, it is way too jerky. Therefore, the trotting horse was developed; a horse with a fast, long stride in the trot. Standardbred horses are the king of that motion and have great endurance. The same traits that make a great racehorse, translate into the makings of a wonderful buggy-horse.

Actually, this blog post is not about Amish horse trivia, but trivia about the Amish Horses Series.

       Did you know that the horses pictured on the covers of Under the Heavens and Catbird Singing actually were born and raised on an Amish farm? The horses on the covers belong to me, Thomas Nye, the author of the Amish Horses Series. I purchased Karma and Coke from an Amish family that lives a few miles from my home. Karm and Coke have never been in a horse trailer. A son of the guy I bought the horses from helped me drive them home to my place. I describe that experience in a short story you can read on this blog. On the "tool bar" above click on "Back in Time". The young man protraying Lenny on the cover of Under the Heavens is my son, Dallas. We purchased his hat at the local Amish "Country Store" as well as a pair of suspenders. The young girl, who is on both Under the Heavens and Catbird Singinghappens to be my daughter, Natalie. We borrowed an Amish dress from a local Amish girl (who will not be named here) for the first book. The dress she is wearing on Book II was also made in a local Amish home and given as a gift to our family friend. (Thanks for loaning us your dress, Meredith)

Another interesting bit of trivia: The character "Aaron Burr" in Catbird Singing, was named after my wife's great-grandpa, Aaron Burr Gingerich, who happened to be Amish. My wife's great-grandpa also had a brother with the name George Washington Gingerich. I know these are odd names for Amish men to have, but it's true. The historical Aaron Burr was infamous, as he killed a man during a duel. My wife's great-grandpa lived a few miles from where we now live. One of his great-grandsons  is still Amish and farms his home-place

Thomas Nye &
Karma and Coke wearing the bridles made by Jess Peachy
       I patterned the character "Grandpa Jesse" after one of my favorite Amishmen, a man named Jess Peachy, who is now deceased. This Jess Peachy was a harness-maker who lived not far from my home. He was very kind and willing to talk about his faith openly, and also shared excellent horse advice with me. Whenever I had an incident with my horses and needed harness repair, I would go to him to get my harness fixed, and more importantly, to get horse wisdom. We had many wonderful conversations while he worked on my harness. In fact, he made the bridles that my horses are wearing on the cover of Under the Heavens. I also patterned Aaron Burr (the harness maker in the Amish Horses Series) after this real life Amishman. It just so happens, the story of Fanny Ella's pony, Dusty, is based on a true story Jess Peachy told me. He had a pony that would climb steps into their home, jump onto a hay-rack and go for a ride behind a team of draft horses. He was offered a great deal of money for that pony and turned it down. (just like in Catbird Singing) and the true-life story (of his pony) ended just the same way it ends in the Amish Horses Series.

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