Anna Sewell, who was born in Yarmouth, England, in 1820, sets her novel, Black Beauty in this Victorian Age. This setting is central to the narrative of a horse's life as it was a time before automobiles, so the horse was an indispensable part of city and rural life. For the upper classes, horses were a means of transportation, of course, but they also were representative of the style and affluence of their owners. Unfortunately, the bearing rein was a popular device in these times. Because it held the horses' heads in an elevated position, the animals were unable to pull carriages in a natural manner which would afford them the most efficient use of their body's strength. Tails were often bobbed; however,without long tails the horses were unable to swat flies from their bodies.
For the rising middle class of this Industrial Age, horses were essential, too. But, few people understood and appreciated horses; instead, they were often rented from stables and the drivers knew nothing of how to treat them. In the cities, laborers used horses until they could perform no longer. They were beaten and overworked, hauling heavy loads, pulling cabs, going into the mines, etc. Truly, the abuse of horses became a serious problem in Victorian England.