I have no idea about this book except for the hint on the cover that this is a story of a horse. I always find a copy of this in the children’s section of booksale but I always end up ignoring it since it doesn’t have a Newberry seal in its cover and I am not really fond of pony books so I thought it will not fit me. It was only when I‘ve finally found a Php10 copy in one of my bargain book-hunting sessions in booksale that I decided to buy it and give it a shot. When I started reading and found out that it is written from a first person point of view a horse in an autobiography form, I instantly changed my mind from thinking that it’s not interesting and as I go through the chapters, I find the shifting emotions I felt while reading truly remarkable and so my increasing love for it.
Living in a period when horses are no longer used for transportation and in a country where horses are not common farm animal, I can definitely count with my fingers the times when I was able to have a face to face experience with a horse, and one of those was when we had a “calesa ride” as we tour the historical streets of Vigan.
This is the sad truth about horses in our country. We can only see them usually in historical tourist destination areas like Intramuros and Vigan and you have to pay a large sum of money just to experience them.
Reading this book brought me to the panoramic view of 19th century England where horses are the most common means of transport, as Black Beauty narrates the experiences he had with his different owners and the other people and horses he met along the way. As the story develops, I learn a lot about horses and their work during that time and see the different kinds of treatment that they receive from humans.
Despite the hardships that he’d gone through with those cruel masters, he was able to keep his spirit and good temper up. It made me think though that it’s good for Beauty for he was able to meet good masters several times in his life, but for those who ended up with cruel masters, I can’t help but feel sorry for them. There are actually scenes from this book that really broke my heart which made me feel ashamed of myself because admittedly, I can be one of those cruel people sometimes. Not being an animal lover, (not for the domestic animals at least as I cared a lot about endangered animal species), I always feel some sort of distaste for dogs and cats that I would not hesitate to hit them once they made a wrong move to me. I think this book made me realized I have to stop doing that and try to be at least civil, if not more caring, to them. As what the author had said “we have no right to distress any of God’s creatures without a very good reason; we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”
Today, Black Beauty is considered as a children’s classic but Mr. Wiki says that the author did not actually wrote this book for children. For the author Anna Sewell, horses are one of her most beloved animals that she wrote a book about them and hope that her work, as she explained in a letter to a friend before she died, “would induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment with horses” and I think she was able to effectively do that in this book. The message of this book is actually more than a story about a horse but also about us humans, and how we treat animals who cannot speak for themselves.
Title: Black Beauty
Author: Anna Sewell