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Black Beauty

3. My Breaking In
I was now beginning to grow handsome; my coat had grown fine and soft, and was bright
black. I had one white foot and a pretty white star on my forehead. I was thought very
handsome; my master would not sell me till I was four years old; he said lads ought not to
work like men, and colts ought not to work like horses till they were quite grown up.
When I was four years old Squire Gordon came to look at me. He examined my eyes, my
mouth, and my legs; he felt them all down; and then I had to walk and trot and gallop
before him. He seemed to like me, and said, "When he has been well broken in he will do
very well." My master said he would break me in himself, as he should not like me to be
frightened or hurt, and he lost no time about it, for the next day he began.
Every one may not know what breaking in is, therefore I will describe it. It means to
teach a horse to wear a saddle and bridle, and to carry on his back a man, woman or
child; to go just the way they wish, and to go quietly. Besides this he has to learn to wear
a collar, a crupper, and a breeching, and to stand still while they are put on; then to have a
cart or a chaise fixed behind, so that he cannot walk or trot without dragging it after him;
and he must go fast or slow, just as his driver wishes. He must never start at what he sees,
nor speak to other horses, nor bite, nor kick, nor have any will of his own; but always do
his master's will, even though he may be very tired or hungry; but the worst of all is,
when his harness is once on, he may neither jump for joy nor lie down for weariness. So
you see this breaking in is a great thing.
I had of course long been used to a halter and a headstall, and to be led about in the fields
and lanes quietly, but now I was to have a bit and bridle; my master gave me some oats as
usual, and after a good deal of coaxing he got the bit into my mouth, and the bridle fixed,
but it was a nasty thing! Those who have never had a bit in their mouths cannot think
how bad it feels; a great piece of cold hard steel as thick as a man's finger to be pushed
into one's mouth, between one's teeth, and over one's tongue, with the ends coming out at
the corner of your mouth, and held fast there by straps over your head, under your throat,
round your nose, and under your chin; so that no way in the world can you get rid of the
nasty hard thing; it is very bad! yes, very bad! at least I thought so; but I knew my mother
always wore one when she went out, and all horses did when they were grown up; and so,
what with the nice oats, and what with my master's pats, kind words, and gentle ways, I
got to wear my bit and bridle.
Next came the saddle, but that was not half so bad; my master put it on my back very
gently, while old Daniel held my head; he then made the girths fast under my body,
patting and talking to me all the time; then I had a few oats, then a little leading about;
and this he did every day till I began to look for the oats and the saddle. At length, one
morning, my master got on my back and rode me round the meadow on the soft grass. It
certainly did feel queer; but I must say I felt rather proud to carry my master, and as he
continued to ride me a little every day I soon became accustomed to it.
The next unpleasant business was putting on the iron shoes; that too was very hard at
first. My master went with me to the smith's forge, to see that I was not hurt or got any
fright. The blacksmith took my feet in his hand, one after the other, and cut away some of
the hoof. It did not pain me, so I stood still on three legs till he had done them all. Then
he took a piece of iron the shape of my foot, and clapped it on, and drove some nails