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The term “horse and buggy” is used to refer to a form of personal transport also known as a horse and carriage, including a simple carriage harnessed to one or two horses. Even for people who do not have a great deal of experience with horses, a horse and buggy tends to be relatively easy to manage, which is why this basic equipage was so popular for personal transport in many societies. Historically, some people kept buggies and horses for periodic use, or rented them from stables. The design was generally intended for short trips, rather than long distance travel.
Buggy configurations vary widely, with the carriage having two or four wheels, and a partially enclosed top which often folds down. The design is lightweight, and it can seat two to four, depending on the design. Classically, the harness and design are very simple to make maintenance easy, and to ensure that people with limited experience can still safely harness and unharness the horse.
Until the 20th century, the horse and buggy was one of the most common forms of transportation, and it could be seen everywhere from rural communities to the heart of the city. However, with the advent of the automobile, people began to transition away from horses and buggies, especially once cars became affordable for most people.
A few communities continue to use horses and buggies for transport. In the United States, the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, and certain other religious groups utilize horses for transport, as do some homesteaders. In rural communities in other regions of the world, the horse and buggy may be preferred because roads are not navigable for cars, or because cars are too expensive and difficult to maintain.
Many people associate the horse and buggy with an older era, and sometimes the term is used in a slangy way to reference days gone by. People may talk about “horse and buggy days,” meaning a more innocent and simple time, and the term is also sometimes used to suggest that someone's way of thinking is outmoded and antiquated, just like the horse as a method of transportation.
Several companies continue to manufacture buggies, because there is a small demand for them, and driving horses are bred and trained in many regions of the world. The Amish in particular are famous for the very high quality of their horses, and in regions where horses and buggies are used to provide novelty rides for tourists, tour operators often try to obtain Amish-bred horses for safety and aesthetic reasons.