Ginger’s Story Continued
The next time Ginger and Black Beauty are together in the paddock, she continues her story. After the difficult breaking in, she was sold to a dealer who then sold her to a fashionable gentleman who wanted a matched pair of chestnuts. She had been tightly reined by the dealer, but the gentleman and his coachman thought the horses looked much more stylish if their heads were held even higher. They often drove this way in the park and other fashionable places.
Black Beauty has never worn a bearing rein, so Ginger explains that it is a rein which requires the horse’s head to be held unbearably high for hours, unable to move it anywhere but higher. This caused unbearable aching in her neck, and there were two bits instead of one, causing flecks of blood to color the froth that collected around her lips. The pair of chestnuts stood for hours, waiting for their mistress to attend a grand party or other entertainment; if she ever stamped a hoof in impatience, she was whipped.
The master cared nothing for the horses themselves, only the appearance they made; the coachman supposedly cared for the horses but complained that Ginger had an “irritable temper” and had been poorly broken to the bearing rein. In the stables the coachman was surly and unpleasant; if he had delivered any form of kindness, Ginger would have borne the pain and tried to do as she was asked. That never happened. Ginger knew the rein was damaging her windpipe, in addition to her neck and mouth; if she had been forced to stay there longer, she would not have been able to breathe. Consequently, she grew more and more irritable and restless and began to bite and kick anyone who came to harness her.
One day when she had been buckled onto the carriage and her head was straining against the rein, she began “to plunge and kick with all her might” until she kicked herself clear of it. That was the end of her time with this master. Ginger was taken to Tatersall’s to be sold. She could not be presented to potential buyers as being problem-free, but her fine appearance and good paces caught the attention of a dealer who bought her and tried many kinds of bits and bridles with her, learning what she could and could not bear. He drove her regularly without a bearing rein and sold her as a well-behaved horse to a gentleman in the country. Everything was good for Ginger until the old groom left and another one came.
The new man was much like Samson, hard and impatient. If Ginger did not immediately respond to his command, he beat her with whatever instrument he could find near him. He wanted the horse to be afraid of him; instead, Ginger began to hate him. One day she bit him, and he was ever after afraid to come into her stall for fear of being kicked or bitten. The dealer who brought her here heard of her troubling behavior and said he knew a place where she might fare better. He thought it was a shame that such a fine horse was ruined because she never really had a chance. He brought her to the Squire shortly before Black Beauty arrived. Unfortunately, Ginger had already determined that men were her enemies and she had to defend herself against them. Though she knows it is very different here, she is afraid the kindness will not last; she cannot think of her masters the way the younger...
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Black Beauty says it would be a shame if she bit either James or John. Ginger explains that she bit James once but did not mean to do so. His response, guided by John, was to treat her with kindness, and she has never snapped at him again. Black Beauty feels sorry for the mare, but his inexperience makes him think she must be exaggerating her treatment. Soon, though, she does seem to be more gentle and cheerful and less wary and defiant. James even remarks that he thinks she whinnied after he rubbed her forehead one morning.
Even the Squire notices the change. One day he comes and strokes her beautiful neck as he tells her she seems much happier now than when she first came to them. Ginger puts her nose up to him in “a friendly and trustful way,” and John jokingly says it is due to what he calls the “Birtwickhorseballs.” They are made up of a pound each of patience, gentleness, firmness, and petting, mixed with "half a pint of common sense," and given to a troubled horse each day.