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HBO's Luck suspends horse use after third death on set


Story by Jack Foley

HBO’S Luck has suspended the use of horses during filming of its second season after a third horse was injured and subsequently euthanised on set.

According to US reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, when one of the horses in the stable suffered an accident while returning to the stall.

Dr Gary Beck, a veterinarian from the California Horse Racing Board, said that the horse was on her way back to the stall when she “reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground”, prompting attending vet Heidi Agnic to conclude that humane euthanasia was the only course of action appropriate.

But the incident marks the third time a horse has been put down on the racing drama, prompting PETA to complain to HBO about the treatment of animals and call for an immediate suspension of the show.

HBO has responded immediately to the criticism by temporarily suspending the use of horses and is working with the American Humane Association (AHA) and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to carry out an investigation.

It also stressed that a certified safety representative was on the premises of the Santa Anita stable in Arcadia, California where the show is filmed and that all safety precautions were in place.

It also put out a statement, saying: “We will not be filming horses until AHA completes its inquiry. Production will continue with other scenes. Everyone associated with Luck cares deeply about the well-being of the horses who are so much a part of the heart and soul of the production.”

In a separate statement, CHRB Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur added: “As with all fatalities within CHRB racing enclosures a necropsy will be conducted. Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year. They are more common than people realise.”

But their comments did little to deter PETA’s from launching its own scathing assessment of the show. In another statement, the organisation said: “HBO, David Milch and Michael Mann should be ashamed. Three horses have now died, and all the evidence we have gathered points to sloppy oversight, the use of unfit or injured horses and disregard for the treatment of racehorses.

“We contacted HBO and producer/star Dustin Hoffman last week regarding reports we’d received stating that oversight on the set was lax, and we urged them to help make things safer for the horses. But we received no response… We will want answers on HBO’s latest casualty. Filming must stop now.”

Related: Read our review of Luck’s pilot episode

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