In Black Beauty, why does the Gordon family move from the Bertwick Hall?
On the mend himself from having drunk cold water when he was over-heated after a frantic trip to get the doctor for Mrs. Gordon, in Chapter 21 Beauty overhears the men discussing the fact that the ailing Mrs. Gordon has been told that she must move to a warmer climate if she is ever to have any quality to her life. Consequently, Beauty and Ginger are placed in a new home at Earls Hall.
When John brings the horses to Earls Hall, Beauty overhears John and the groomsman talking about the two horses; John cautions him about Ginger's temperament. Then, John mentions that the bearing rein has never been used with Ginger and Beauty, and he adds that Ginger acts as she does sometimes because she was made to wear one.
"Well," said York, "if they come here, they must wear the bearing rein....I always stand out against the gag-bit, and shall do so, but it must be tight up when my lady rides!"
Anna Sewell mentions this device because she wrote Black Beauty with the intention of advocating for better treatment of horses. She campaigned against the bearing rein and other cruelties to horses. The bearing rein is a strap that attaches to the harness of a carriage, running to the head, and over it to a bit. It causes the horse to hold its head in a certain position. It was fashionable at the time because horses looked proud with their heads up; however, it was cruel because it put a strain upon the horse, especially when they went uphill as horses have more pulling power if they can put down their heads and make more natural use of their muscles.