An extraordinary reaction to the passing of Black Beauty

TEMECULA –Villa Chardonnay Equine Sanctuary (VCES), one of the nation’s most recognizable and reputable equine sanctuaries, has recently lost one of their horses, Black Beauty. There is more to the story as just after her death an amazing outpouring of sadness was displayed by Black Beauty’s best friend, Duchess. Duchess had an extraordinary reaction to Black Beauty’s passing.

Black Beauty was about 25-years-old and had been at the Villa Chardonnay Equine Sanctuary for the past two years. Duchess came to VCES not long after Black Beauty and they became fast friends; always together, sharing food, forming a bond beyond that of a normal horse friendship; they were inseparable. Their names just happen to coincide with the famous book “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell written in 1877, where Duchess is the doting mother of Black Beauty.

Black Beauty was in good health and recently had a veterinary check-up. Unfortunately on the clear morning of January 22, she passed away from an unforeseen stroke.

Black Beauty and Duchess shared a pasture and when she went down Duchess became alarmed and immediately went to her friend and nudged her several times to get her to stand up. Black Beauty struggled to stay alive and with her friend, she got up once and then went down again. Monika Kerber, the founder of VCES, was there and comforted Black Beauty the best that she could. She could see the fear in Duchess’ eyes and the great sadness when she passed away. Duchess was still trying to get her up, and she never left her side. Then something extraordinary happened as she stood by Black Beauty – she started to cry. She had tears running down her face, something that has not been seen before. She had such a great love for her friend and is still very sad.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; I have never seen a horse cry before. At Villa we cater to the geriatric crowd, so we lose some horses every year. Most of them have friends who are sad when they are gone, but we have never seen a reaction like this before,” said, Kerber.

Villa Chardonnay Equine Sanctuary focuses on providing a permanent home to slaughter-bound, elderly, neglected, and abused horses that are not able to be ridden or adopted. The sanctuary is considered their last chance for survival. Celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, Villa Chardonnay has steadily and responsibly grown year after year and has become one of the largest equine sanctuaries in California. The mostly privately funded non-profit is reaching out to the community for continued support to continue their efforts.

To help the horses at VCES, send a tax deductible donation directly to Villa Chardonnay at 42200 Calle Barbona, Temecula, CA 92592. Villa Chardonnay is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. Their next fundraiser “The Mane Event” will be held at Monte De Oro Winery on Saturday, March 29. Visit VCES online at

2 Responses to "An extraordinary reaction to the passing of Black Beauty"

  1. DustyPony   March 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I have long been interested in animal behavior. I no scientist, but have had opportunity to observe many animals in different situations, especially family units. Animals do grieve. We know this about geese. I have seen dogs and cats also grieve, maybe not with tears, but with depression, yes, i said depression. I have witnessed horses also exhibit the behavior described here. Tha standing in attendance and the encouraging nips to get the downed back on their feet, bobbing the head up and down. I have never seen the tears, but believe it possible. Recent animal behaviorists have stated that dogs do not show guilt. I beg to differ. I have witnessed emotional responses in many animals, jealousy, happiness and sadness, in cats, dogs and horses.

  2. DR DR   March 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Duchess has me tearing up! Thank you for your story and care.


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