The death of the horse Tom has ridden saddens him deeply, and he feels remorseful that he has caused it with his brutal riding, as well as queasy over the concept of its death. This reaction indicates that, at this point in his riding career, he remains somewhat sensitive to the horses' place in the world and that of animals in general. His sick feelings speak to his sense that the act of killing has been fundamentally wrong. Later on in the novel, these instincts and feelings will fade as his behavior becomes increasingly callous and brutal. Tom's treatment of the horses also strikes us as somewhat ironic. While his own will becomes subdued, through Red's ranting and through the overall abuse he has endured, he learns in turn to subdue the will of the horses—to "break their spirit" and at times to kill them.