See those two horses in the picture down there? The little one is me. That’s my mom with me. I was just a young colt back then. I remember those days well. Mom and I would spend every day together, running around the green meadow and eating our fill of the delicious grass that grew there. I loved that farm. I also loved the days when my mom taught me things that would be important as I got older.
“Pay attention to what I’m about to say,” she told me once. “The other colts you play with are very nice but they have not learned their manners. To have manners you must be gentle and good, and do your work with a good will.”
Mom would always give me good advice, and I tried my hardest to follow it.
As I got older, I heard men talk about how I had grown to become a fine horse. I was kept on the same farm until I was four years old. By that time I had been taught to carry people and pull carts.
It was about then that I learned I was being sold. I didn’t know whether this was good or bad, as I’d never left my farm before. I was sad to go, but excited to see what new adventures awaited me. At first things weren’t so bad, but eventually, life got pretty rough for me. But I’ll get to that in a little bit.
I was sold to an estate called Birtwick Park. It was a beautiful place. There were many other horses in the stable with me, and the trainers were very nice. The owners of the house would take each of us out for daily rides around the grounds.
It was pleasant work.
I grew especially fond of the stable boy, Joe Green. He seemed to like me, too. Joe was in charge of putting up all the horses for the night. But he always seemed to pay extra attention to me.
The time I spent at Birtwick Park was wonderful. But I remember one night
in particular that was not so wonderful. In fact, it was scary.
Late one night, I was asleep in my stall when the stable doors flew open. Joe Green and the head horse trainer, John Manley, came rushing in. John was telling Joe that the lady of the house, Mrs. Gordon, was very sick. If the doctor didn’t get to the house immediately, Mrs. Gordon could die.
They opened my stall and led me out of the stable. I was fitted with my harness and saddle. John Manley hopped up onto my back, flicked the reins on my harness, and we were off. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. In no time we arrived at the doctor’s.
John Manley leaped from my back and sprang to the door.
“Mrs. Gordon is desperately ill,” said John. “We fear that she won’t make it through the night if you cannot get there at once.”
The doctor gathered his things then hopped on my back. I ran even faster on the return trip. I ran harder than I ever had before. I ran right up the path to the front of the house. The doctor rushed in the front door to tend to Mrs. Gordon. Joe Green was waiting for me. I was sweating and breathing hard. Joe Green looked at me with concern. As it turned out, Mrs. Gordon wasn’t the only one to fall ill; apparently, so had I.
I was too weak to stand or eat.Joe Green slept in the stall with me, taking care of me. I knew I would recover.
In no time I was as good as new. Thankfully, so was Mrs. Gordon. But the doctor recommended that she move to a warmer climate to help her recovery. As I watched her ride off in her carriage, I couldn’t help but think that a change was coming.
As it turned out, Mrs. Gordon’s move would mark the beginning of a very difficult time in my life. I had been lucky so far, but my luck was about to change.
I was sold to a man who needed a horse to pull a delivery cart. I would begin at the crack of dawn, and pull a cart that was positively huge and overloaded. I would drag it up steep hills, across vast meadows, through wide rivers and creeks, and over rocky roads.
I thought I was lucky when he decided to sell me. But luck wasn’t on my side this time, either. I was bought by a man who ran a carriage company. It wasn’t bad at first, but I soon realized that this man would sometimes make his horses pull carriages for days straight without a rest. It was backbreaking work.
As a result, this man’s horses grew weak very quickly, and he was forced to sell them. I was sold a number of times after that. Each time I kept hoping that one of my masters would treat me better. But it never happened.
I was sent from horse market to horse market. I was starting to think I belonged with the old horses that were too worn-out to work anymore.
It was at one of these markets that my life took an amazing turn. A young boy convinced his grandfather to buy me. “We can make him strong again, Grandpapa,” the boy said. “We can make him strong like we did with Ladybird.”
Grandpapa looked me over and said, “I think you’re right, Willie. This is a fine horse.”They bought me and took me home. Their farm was lovely, and Willie treated me like a king’s horse. But no sooner did I get used to it than it was time to move again.
“I have some news, Willie,” Grandpapa said. “You’ve done such a good job of making this fine horse healthy and strong again, that I’ve found a new owner for him.”
Willie was sad to hear this, and so was I, but Grandpapa assured him that I would be happier than I had ever been before.
I was taken to my new home the next day. Something seemed familiar about it as we trotted up the path. Three well-dressed ladies came out and smiled at Grandpapa as I heard a voice from near the stables.
“I don’t believe it!” the voice yelled. I looked over and saw a figure running toward us, still yelling. “Could it be true?”
I was confused until one of the well-dressed women said, “Joe Green, what’s all this fuss about? What is it that you cannot believe?”
“This is Black Beauty, ma’am!” he said. “He’s been brought back to us!”