The good news is HBO’s horseracing series “Luck” has been cancelled. The bad news is it took the death of a third horse to make it happen.
The American Humane Association (AHA) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recognize the help of whistleblowers and animal advocates in Wednesday’s announcement by HBO permanently shutting down production of the horseracing series Luck.
After two horses sustained broken bones during the filming of the first season — necessitating the humane euthanasia of both — AHA stepped up monitoring on the Luck set.† According to AHA on Monday, a horse was being walked to her stall when she reared up and fell backwards hitting her head.
Examination by a veterinarian recommended euthanization for the injury. A necropsy will be conducted on the horse, as required for deaths at racing board enclosures. AHA recommended production shut down pending a full investigation. Within 24 hours,†HBO announced cancellation of the series.
It’s ironic to call this a success story because it took a third horse dying to get HBO producers to cancel the horseracing series Luck. But cancelled it is.† Thanks go to the many Care2 members who signed the online petition.
AHA’s No Animals Were Harmed Disclaimer
AHA has monitored the filming of Luck from the beginning. Details are reported on the site. After the second horse death, AHA insisted that production be suspended and imposed additional protocols, including:
“…daily training and care records, microchips in all of the horses, hiring an additional veterinarian to do the comprehensive soundness checks at the top of the day, and radiographs of the legs of all horses being considered for use on the show. We insisted that these protocols be in place before any filming could resume. HBO agreed to all our requests and worked collaboratively regarding these many additional safety guidelines and precautions, and resumed filming once all of the horses in the show stable were radiographed and those deemed at risk were pulled.”
PETA advocated from the beginning to use stock horse racing footage rather than filming a race scene in each episode.† HBO declined to take this advice.† The result is three horses have died while filming HBO’s Luck.
Details of PETA’s own investigation of the first two fatalities during Luck filming resulted in PETA contacting Los Angeles law enforcement agencies to file a complaint and request charges be brought.
Information obtained from whistleblowers describe a 5-year-old thoroughbred named Outlaw Yodeler, who hadn’t been raced in months “was apparently so sore that he was given a potent cocktail of muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory and painkilling drugs so strong that it’s often used as an analgesic for horses undergoing some kinds of surgery.”
Marc’s Shadow, Luck’s second equine fatality, was 8 years old, arthritic and hadn’t been raced in four years. The difference in findings between AHA and PETA is not clear.
The Right Choice
AHA is responsible for overseeing animal welfare in Hollywood and television productions and said “that in light of the three deaths this is arguably the best decision HBO could have made.”
In any event, AHA’s press release states “… [AHA] will now follow up with HBO to find out the disposition of the horses in the Luck barn and ensure that they are retired properly.”
Photo credit by Gary Graves via Flickr