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365 Days in Horse Country – Black Beauty

Blog by Michael Stuart Webb | November 17th, 2013

365 Days in Horse Country – Black Beauty



In 1877, when writer Anna Sewell died soon after completing her first and only novel, “Black Beauty”, she had no idea of what her book would ultimately accomplish.  Because of “Black Beauty”, horses would never be thought of the same way again.

“Black Beauty” is set in late Victorian England.  It is the fictional autobiography of a horse, who tells of his trials and tribulations as he is passed from one owner to another. Forced to work under a painful device called the bearing rein, Black Beauty describes with graphic candor the suffering he endures pulling a carriage around London.

After publication, a grassroots movement developed to banish the cruel bearing rein.  Attempts to ban the device were successful, and soon other anti-cruelty laws were established in England as well.  It was no longer acceptable for horse owners to beat their animals and starve them. Which had been regular occurrences at that time.

"Black Beauty” remains a top-selling book that has been read by just about every horse lovers in the world.  It has been translated into many languages, and it was the inspiration for four feature-length films.

Before Sewell’s death, she said the aim of “Black Beauty” was “to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses”.  She certainly achieved her goal.