Greeting the funeral car as it pulled up to the ceremony was a white horse – an unusual enough sight in itself. What happened next, though, astounded everyone even further. Indeed, it seemed as if the animal was mourning the loss of his owner in the most heart-wrenching way.
And the feeling had been mutual, as in life Wagner de Lima Figueiredo had also loved his horse Sereno. Figueiredo had been a semi-professional cowboy and often took part in rodeo shows to compete for cash prizes. When he wasn’t in the saddle, though, the equestrian worked as a local authority clerk in his hometown of Paraiba, Brazil.
At the time tragedy struck, meanwhile, Figueiredo had owned Sereno for eight years – time enough for the pair to become very close. Indeed, in an image of the pair together posted to Facebook in November 2016, Figueiredo described the animal as “my horse, my friend.”
Sereno was so beautiful, moreover, that many people had offered to buy the white stallion. But there was no way Figueiredo was going to let his favorite horse go. “[He] always refused to sell him,” Figueiredo’s brother Wando de Lima told the Daily Mail in January 2017.
“Wagner’s life was this horse,” de Lima continued. “He had a passion and a great love for him. Sometimes he would even stop buying things for himself to make sure he could afford to buy horse feed.”
It’s safe to say, then, that Figueiredo and Sereno were completely inseparable. However, their beautiful relationship was sadly cut short when Figueiredo was involved in a motorcycle accident on New Year’s Day 2017. He had been riding his bike along the beach when he lost control.
And while the cowboy underwent emergency surgery, sadly he still succumbed to his injuries. Naturally, then, Figueiredo’s grieving family organized a funeral for him so loved ones could come and pay tribute. They set the funeral date for two days after his passing.
Because of the close friendship Figueiredo had with Sereno, though, de Lima made sure that the stallion would be present at the funeral as well. Indeed, de Lima wanted to pay tribute to Figueiredo’s interest in everything equine. Certainly, he knew how important a horse is to a cowboy – because he, too, is one.
On the day of the funeral, then, Sereno was among the fellow mourners at the ceremony. But when Figueiredo’s casket arrived in the back of a car, something amazing happened. It appeared, in fact, that the horse knew his best friend was in there.
And when the vehicle came to a stop, the stallion sniffed around the casket before carefully laying his head on it. It was as though Sereno knew this would be the last chance he’d have to be close to his former owner. Like everyone else at the funeral, it seemed the horse was grieving, too.
Recalling the moving scenes in January 2017, one eye-witness told The Dodo that Sereno “began to walk around the coffin, smelling the coffin. Then he neighed. It was a very strong emotion. Everyone who was there was moved. I cried myself when I saw that scene.”
And the horse’s outpouring of emotion didn’t end there. He was also seen stamping his hooves, whinnying and was heard giving out a mournful whimper throughout proceedings. “This horse was everything to him. It was as if the horse knew what was happening and wanted to say goodbye,” de Lima added to GloboNews in January 2017.
Meanwhile, family friend Francielia Limiera was astonished to see just how deeply Sereno seemed to be missing his late friend. As she explained to the Daily Mail, “It was an unbelievable thing to see the way the horse behaved. If I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed it myself.”
“As we brought the coffin out at the beginning of the funeral, [Sereno] sounded like he was crying and as if he recognized that his owner was finally leaving him,” Limiera added. “He pounded the ground with his hooves and kept on whinnying. It was very sad.”
Yet regardless of how unusual Sereno’s behavior seems, it’s not totally unknown. Vet and Brazilian Horse Riding Federation member Marcelo Servos, for one, has stated that equines are more than capable of mourning a human’s death. “I’ve seen more fantastic stories than this and I’m sure this can happen. I do not say it happened specifically in this case, but it is possible,” he told the Daily Mail.
Following the ceremony, then, Sereno marched with other mourners to Figueiredo’s final resting place. The cowboy was laid to rest in the nearby city of Cajazeiras, and it was there that the horse and the rest of the funeral-goers were able to say one final goodbye to their loved one.
In addition, Sereno’s heartfelt reaction to the death of his owner has garnered quite a bit of media attention. Indeed, not only have news outlets in Figueiredo’s native Brazil covered the story but those in the U.S., U.K. and Sweden have done so, too. Meanwhile, video footage of the funeral has been viewed over one million times on YouTube.
And many viewers were so moved by the video that they shared their feelings in the accompanying comments. “When my aunt passed at home her dog knew. She kept crying and would not eat. This is when I knew animals have feelings. So sad,” read one.
Still while Sereno deals with his sad loss, he won’t be left alone. He will go on to be rehomed with Figueiredo’s brother, and de Lima has vowed to take care of the horse in a manner that would do his sibling proud. “Wagner will stay with our family forever,” he told the Daily Mail.
So while he’s grieving, at least Sereno will be surrounded by his wider family. And perhaps even in time the horse will come to terms with his loss and maybe even be able to look back fondly on his time with Figueiredo. Certainly, though, Sereno’s behavior seems to show how much emotion animals can feel, even if they don’t share it with us all the time.