What lesson does Black Beauty learn at Birtwick Park?

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Black Beauty learns some important lessons at Birtwick Park, including that he must live a life of service to humans without the freedom he once enjoyed. He also learns that humans are sometimes cruel and neglectful and that ignorance can be harmful.

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In Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, the title character is sold as a young horse to Squire Gordon, who lives at Birtwick Park. Beauty has a good life there, but he must get used to some things. He is a working horse now; he no longer has the freedom to roam in the meadows. Rather, he must serve the humans and be ridden and controlled by them. He learns that his life will be one of continual service.

Although the people at Birtwick Park are kind to their horses, Beauty learns that this is not always so. The other horses tell him all about how their former owners were cruel to them or neglected them. Some horses speak of beatings and scars. Others talk about how horses' tails are sometimes cut off or their ears cut simply for the sake of fashion. These acts are painful, and they harm horses for the rest of their lives merely to satisfy a human whim. Still other horses explain how blinders interfere with a horse's vision in the name of human convenience.

At Birtwick Park, Beauty also learns that sometimes humans are not so much cruel as ignorant about how to treat horses. After Beauty makes a fast dash to get the doctor for the Squire's wife, Joe fails to care for the exhausted, sweaty horse properly. Joe doesn't mean to be neglectful. He simply doesn't know what to do, and Beauty becomes very ill. Beauty forgives Joe, realizing that the boy meant no harm, and thus, Beauty learns a lesson in forgiveness as well.

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