The horse and buggy culture, symbolic of the Amish and their resistance to contemporary lifestyles, is not always appreciated in the bucolic valleys of Central Pennsylvania. When conflicts arise with their non-Amish neighbors, the Amish tend to lose.
In a case that has been dragging on for nearly two years, a local judge decided in his courtroom on Monday, Dec. 13, that Daniel and Katie King, of Walker Township, were in contempt of his earlier order that they must remove their horse from their property. The judge ordered that if the horse was not removed within 24 hours, Mr. King should be jailed for contempt of court and, in any case, he should be fined $5,600 for ignoring the earlier order.
The Amish couple and a neighboring Amish man, Daniel Beiler, were found to be in violation of a township zoning ordinance that prohibits horses from being kept in residential neighborhoods of the mostly-rural township about 17 miles northeast of State College and the University Park campus of Penn State University. Mr. Beiler had removed his horse from his property several months earlier, but Mr. King felt he had to keep his. “It is the only transportation that we have that we can go where we want to when we want to. I feel we should be able to have a horse,” the Center Daily Times quoted him as saying.
The following day the newspaper reported that Mr. King had, indeed, removed the horse. He had wanted to continue to defy the judge’s order and go to prison, but relatives visiting from Lancaster County had convinced him of the futility of doing so. It is now stabled about a mile away, but the family is not sure whether they’ll be able to walk that far with their two children when they want to visit people or go shopping.
Mr. King insists that while they can find rides with others, the horse remains their main link to the outside community. Mrs. King had planned on making Christmas cookies along with some other Amish women a few miles away, but now she is not sure how she can get there. Mr. King is trying to find another home in an area that doesn’t restrict the possession of horses.
A neighbor of the King’s, pointing to a pasture about 100 yards away, told the newspaper reporter that it is usually filled with cows. “So what’s the problem?” he asked rhetorically.
Perhaps the problem is that conservative, rural areas of Pennsylvania that want to inhibit the influx of Amish people, enact anti-horse zoning ordinances. Prohibiting their horse-culture is a sure away of keeping the Amish away or driving out current Amish residents.