Chapter 6 Summary

Liberty

Black Beauty is content in his new home. He has good people to take care of him, a comfortable and airy stable, and the best food to eat. Despite such a wonderful environment, he is discontent in one thing: He misses his liberty. For the first three-and-a-half years of his life, he had been allowed to do almost anything he pleased. Now, though, he must stand in a stable night and day, every minute of every day, unless he is wanted. Then, he must be just as steady and quiet as any horse who has been working for twenty years, straps everywhere and bridle and blinkers in place.

He does not want to complain, but it is a drastic change for a young horse full of strength and spirits who was used to large fields. He used to be able to fling his head up, toss up his tail, and gallop away at full speed, snorting with his companions. Now, when he has had less to do than usual, he feels so full of life and energy that when John takes him out to exercise, he is unable to keep quiet. He feels as if he must jump or prance or dance. He knows he has shaken John more than he should, especially after he first arrived, but John is always patient and simply tells him to get the “tickle” out of his feet.

As soon as they get out of the village, John allows Black Beauty to run as fast as he wants before slowing him down to a more normal pace. Horses that do not get enough exercise are often called “skittish” and punished for their excess energy; however, John understands this is natural for young horses. John communicates through his voice or the touch of the rein, and when he is serious, Black Beauty always responds because he is very fond of John.

Sometimes the Squire’s horses have their liberty, often on Sunday afternoons during the summer since the church is near and no one needs the carriage. Being set free in the home paddock or the old orchard is a treat for the horses. The grass is cool and refreshing to their feet, and the air is sweet. Here they have the freedom to gallop or lie down on their backs or roll over or nibble at the sweet grass. This is also a good time for talking as they stand in the shade of a large chestnut tree.