“As often as I have driven through the Amish communities in Trumbull and Geauga Counties, I’ve never seen anyone riding a horse. People are either walking or riding in buggies. Are they permitted to ride on horseback?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff couldn’t remember if they had ever seen anyone riding either, but also was not aware of any prohibition of it.
We began our search with some of the books in the library’s collection but were unable to find anything addressing horseback riding. The book Who Are the Amish? by Merle Good is filled with interesting photographs, and on page 22 it shows two Amish children riding a mule in front of a plow.
Extending the search online, we located AmishAmerica.com, a website that directly addressed this question. The site also has a photograph of Amish children riding, and states that it is primarily young girls who ride. The author of the article quotes two sources:
Plain Buggies author Stephen Scott says “One will occasionally see a child riding a pony or a young man out for a ride, but almost never would a person ride a horse to church. Obviously the problem of modesty is involved for women and, of course, only one or two people can conveniently ride a horse with room for very little baggage” (Plain Buggies, p. 43).
The Riddle of Amish Culture author Donald Kraybill notes that it is “generally discouraged because it borders on a worldly form of sport” (Riddle, p. 70).
Multiple sites also mention the Amish training horses for both driving and riding, so one would assume that they are ridden in order to be trained.