The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned overit, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one sie, we looked into a ploughed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master’s house, which stood bye the roadside; at the top of the meadow was a plantation of fir tres, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank. –Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
Little girls and horses seem to be one of life’s inevitable combinations, like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, or cream and sugar. I was no different.
My first horse books were the Marguerite Henry series about Misty and Phantom and the rest of the Chincoteague ponies. I loved those books, and could taste the salt air and feel the damp sand while I read them, but Black Beauty was a far more satisfying story.
Written from the horse’s POV, it’s essentially the autobiography of a thoroughbred, and while there is abuse and neglect enough to wring tears from any small girl, there is also a gently told tale with a happy ending.
Black Beauty remained my favorite horse book until I started reading Dick Francis mysteries when I was fifteen. Last Christmas, I sent a copy to my niece. I hope she loves it as much as I do.