Chapter 7 Summary

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One Sunday when Ginger and Black Beauty are standing by themselves in the shade, Ginger asks the younger horse about his upbringing and his breaking-in experience. After he tells her, she says she might have an even temperament like his if she had been treated as he had been. Now, though, she is sure she will never change because she has never been treated with love or kindness in her life.

Ginger was removed from her mother as soon as she was weaned and put in with a lot of other colts who cared nothing for her, and she cared nothing for any of them. No kind master brought her lovely things to eat or gave her any kind words. She was not abused, but she also was not cared for beyond the necessities of adequate food and shelter. A footpath wound through their field, and some older boys would throw stones at the horses to get them to gallop; one of the colts was scarred this way, though Ginger was never hit. Such cruelties only made the colts wilder, and they all quickly decided that boys were their enemies.

Sometimes life for them was good, but being broken in was a bad experience for Ginger. The mare was dragged and forced into the bridle and halter, without kindness or any opportunity to discover what the men wanted of her. Ginger was a purebred with a lot of energy; undoubtedly she gave them a lot of trouble. She found it “dreadful” to be shut into a confining stall all day. She fretted and whined all the time, wanting to get loose. Black Beauty has felt this way, even with all the kindness and thoughtfulness he has known; being confined was even worse for a horse that had never experienced kindness.

One former master, Mr. Ryder, might have been able to help Ginger change, but he was old and allowed his son to run the daily operations of his business. He only came to oversee sometimes. Samson, his son, was a tall, strong, aggressive man who used to brag that no horse would ever throw him. Unlike his father, he was hard: his eyes, his hands, and his voice. Ginger soon recognized his goal—to wear out all of her spirit and create a humble, broken, obedient horse. Even thinking about him now makes Ginger stamp her foot.

Samson ran her around for hours on a long training leash, trying to wear her out. He used to drink, and it was worse for her when he had been drinking. She went back to her stall, exhausted, and he came for her again the next morning. After another exhausting day, Ginger was allowed back into her stall to rest; just an hour later, however, he came back for her with a saddle, a bridle, and a new kind of bit. The man had just mounted the horse when something she did infuriated him, and he harshly drew back the reins. It was painful for Ginger, and she reared up suddenly, making Samson even angrier.

He began flogging her, and for the first time Ginger fought back. For a long time he was able to stay in the saddle as he cruelly punished her with his whip and spurs, but by this time, Ginger was not willing to forgive and wanted nothing but to get this man off her back. After a terrible struggle, she was at last able to throw him to the ground. She galloped to the other end of the field and turned to see her tormentor get up and go to the stable. She watched, but no one came to get her. Hours passed as the flies gathered on her bloodied flanks. She was hungry and tired. She wanted to lie down and rest, but she could not find comfort with the saddle still strapped to her. There was nothing to drink, and as the sun began to drop, she knew her fellow colts were eating a decent meal without her.

Finally, at sunset, the old master came to her with a sieve in his hand, strewing oats as he walked. She knew his voice well and was soothed by it. He spoke to her gently and coaxed her to eat the oats he brought, vexed at the sight of her torn flesh. Mr. Ryder took her reins and gently led her to the stable. Samson was at the door, and Ginger laid her ears back at the sight of him. The father snapped at the son, something about being a “vicious brute.” He told his son that a bad-tempered man will never make a good-tempered horse. He then led Ginger to her box where he took off the saddle and washed her tenderly and gently.

The bathing felt wonderful to the bruised mare, but she could not eat the hay because of the broken skin at the corners of her mouth. The old master ordered a good bran mash, which felt delightful to the weary horse. He told the other trainer, Job, that if a “high-mettled creature like this” is not broken in correctly, she will not ever be good for anything. The old man came to see Ginger often after that, and the thoughtful Job took over her training; she was able to learn what he wanted of her.

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