Black Beauty 2: Being Trained
I was almost four years old when Farmer Grey brought another man to see me. It was Squire Gordon.
"What a fine-looking horse," the squire said, gazing at me.
Indeed I was growing up to be very handsome. I was jet-black except for one white hoof and a white star on my forehead.
"I'll start training him soon," Farmer Grey said. "I like to let horses grow up before I ride them. Boys should not work like men."
Squire Gordon chuckled, and then looked into my eyes. He gently opened my mouth to examine my teeth, and ran his hands up and down my legs.
"May I see how he moves?" he asked.
"Of course," Farmer Grey replied.
I walked, trotted, and cantered while the two men watched. When I finished, the squire looked pleased.
"Please call me when he's trained," he said. "This horse is exactly what I'm looking for."
The next day I began my training.
I already knew how to do lots of things. I could wear a halter and walk calmly beside a human. I could pick up my feet nicely so my hooves could be trimmed.
But now I found there was much more to learn!
First came the bridle, which looked a little like a halter. But there was one big difference: the bit. That was a piece of metal attached to the leather straps. Imagine my surprise when Farmer Grey put the bit into my mouth!
I tried to spit it right back out. But Farmer Grey used kind words and some grain to convince me not to do so.
Still, having the bit in my mouth was a very strange feeling. I did not like it at all!
Next Farmer Grey set a saddle gently on my back. There was a strap that he fastened under my body to hold the saddle in place. I didn't mind that too much—especially when he gave me more grain.
After that Farmer Grey saddled and bridled me every day and led me around. He also gave me extra grain, along with lots of pats and kind words. Before long I looked forward to my training sessions.
Then one day Farmer Grey lifted himself into the saddle and sat on my back. It felt strange, but I could hear his voice talking to me from up there, so I wasn't afraid.
Soon Farmer Grey was riding me around the farm every day. Then he brought out a driving harness. My mother and the other adult horses wore this harness whenever they were hooked to a cart or carriage.
The harness had a stiff, heavy collar and a bridle with two squares of leather, called blinkers, attached to it. With the blinkers on, I could see straight ahead, but not to the sides.
More harness pieces crossed my body, and a stiff strap went under my tail. The tail strap was called a crupper, and I liked it even less than the bit. The first time Farmer Grey put the crupper on me, I felt like kicking. But my mother had taught me well, and I kept my feet on the ground.
I almost forgot to mention one more part of my training. My master sent me to a nearby farm for a couple of weeks. I was put out in a field with some sheep and cows. There was plenty of delicious grass, so I started to eat.
Then I heard a roar in the distance. Seconds later a huge, noisy black monster rushed into view!
It terrified me so much that I galloped to the far end of the field. To my surprise, though, the sheep and cows didn't react at all!
I soon found out that the monster was called a train. And I learned why none of the other animals seemed to notice the noise. Trains raced past that field several times every day. At first I ran away each time. Then I stopped running and just lifted my head to watch.
Finally I got used to the trains, just as I'd grown used to the bit, the saddle, the harness, and even the crupper. I returned home, and Farmer Grey started hooking me to a cart and driving me around the neighborhood. He usually hitched my mother beside me. She was a good, calm horse who helped to teach me what to do.
"You're learning fast, my son," she told me. "I'm glad because the better you behave, the better humans will treat you."
"What do you mean?" I asked her. "Farmer Grey always treats all the horses well."
"Yes," she agreed. "But other humans aren't always as kind as our master."
I wasn't sure why I should worry about what other humans were like. But later I would find out more about that.