We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Since you're in the area, you might consider heading to Kidron, OH, since Thursday is auction day. Farmers, both Amish and "English", will be there to buy and sell livestock and hay. Lots of other goings-on as well.
Horses are lovely animals. When towns were filled with horses, though, there was a lot more disease. Note between the carriage's front wheels -- maybe that's ordinary litter, maybe it's horse litter. Driving a car is also a lot easier than managing a horse humanely and sensibly. But then, I doubt anyone here is advocating a return to horses as primary transportation.
If you are accustomed to watching horses and pay some attention to those pulling wagons in "Amish Country", you'll quickly notice that many of the horses are off (have some problem or problems with hooves or legs that negatively effects their gait). These are working horses and working breaks them down.
If you are familiar with horse auctions (not the ones where high-end racehorses are sold, the ones where far more ordinary horses) you will almost certainly be aware of the "kill pen". There will be a buyer at the auction who may well be them most active buyer there. He buys for the slaughter house. The horses he buys go to the "kill pen".
When horse are used as tools they are generally treated like tools. Taken care of until they are no longer functional and then, if they cannot be economically repaired, disposed of.
None of this makes Amish people bad or anything of the sort. Much of how they choose to live is how most people lived once upon a time. But it does dull the charm of those horse drawn carts a bit - at least to my mind.
Life is hard. The horse makes it easier. What is it, "Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw"- it is, what it is, no more no less. Rather my neighbors Amish, than Muslim. Muslims are wrong. Period. Time we all understood who the enemy really is. Racist? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Not just "once upon a time" -- historically speaking, until the very recent past (1900 AD or later). Until the railroad it was just about the only land-based transportation option apart from walking. Romantic in the imagination but not in practice for sure.
But honestly, compared to how pigs, chicken, cattle etc are treated in our modern factory farms, an Amish-owned horse has a pretty darn good life.
I've been working with standardbreds for 10 years and am currently in horse rescue. The things the Amish do to their horses are sickening. The horses are nothing more than farm equipment and when they break down, they are discarded, and not humanely. Amish horses tend to be under weight, lame, and shy of people. I knew one who had all the teeth on one side of his mouth knocked out with a two by four because he was too 'mouthy'. We just pulled a healthy 19 year old ex-Amish horse from the kill pen and he is so concerned about getting reprimanded that he just freezes and shakes. Ex-Amish horses typically come with ribs and hips poking out, harness sores all over their bodies, dull coats, bad feet, and inflamed legs. Even from a distance, you can see that the horse in the first photo is severely under fed. They are good, calm horses because they don't have the energy to fight back any more.