Beto Carrero was a tremendously popular personality in Brazil. He was a cowboy, showman, singer, and entertainer. He died just last year,(site in Portuguese) in February 2008, and Brazilian audiences - who turned out by the thousands for the funeral procession - were transfixed by the story that followed. Faísca, Carrero's most famous show horse, fell into a deep depression when Carrero passed away. This television program has the details of the heartbreaking story (news video in Portuguese, but includes footage of Faísca performing), with park visitors, Faísca's trainer, and animal psychologists all weighing in on the tragedy.
Carrero's life was an inspiration to many, as he rose from a poor, rural childhood to build his entertainment empire, which includes the Beto Carrero World theme park (the largest in Latin America, fifth largest in the world) and many circus troupes. He was lauded as an true gentleman and role model, promoting hard work, honesty and kindness to animals.
Beto Carrero (a show name chosen later in life) was fascinated by American cowboys and the circus from an early age. Faísca, a gray Mangalarga stallion, was his famous constant companion in every show that he performed. Faísca, actually, has been two horses. The elder Faísca, sire of the current one, lives in retirement on a rural farm. As of 2008 he was 32 years old. After Carrero's death, Faísca Junior, then eight years old, was also retired (site in Portuguese), and it was promised that no one else would ever ride him. Today he continues to live in a special stable at Beto Carrero World, cared for by his trainer (who worked with Carrero for the last 15 years), who said that although initially he was very depressed, having the public around to see him has raised his spirits. He is one of the most popular exhibits at the park.
This article has some classic pictures of Beto and Faísca performing.
Photo: Faísca in his special stable, surrounded by photos of his stardom, by [lucas.gomes] on flickr.
Thanks to William & Edher for telling me about Faísca!