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HBO cancels ‘Luck’ after a third horse dies

Still from the HBO show
Still from the HBO show "Luck."

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After agreeing initially to suspend filming on “Luck,” HBO has cancelled the hot horse-racing drama entirely. It comes after an accident on Tuesday, when a horse was injured and later euthanized.

The horse was being lead to a stable by a groom when it reared back and fell down sustaining a head injury. This is the third horse that has been put down due to injuries, the other two took place during the filming of the first season.

HBO has maintained that it consistently works with the American Humane Association’s film and TV unit which develops protocol for the proper treatment of animals used on set. In addition, they’ve also enlisted the services of racing industry experts to exceed safety regulations of TV and film industry standards. HBO said in a statement that an official representative of the American Humane Association was onsite when the accident took place saying, “as always, all safety precautions were in place.”

After the death of the first two horses, HBO and its production of "Luck" drew sharp criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA implied that the deaths of the horses were a failure on behalf of the production from not following safety guidelines correctly and did not consider the matter closed.

Vice President of PETA Kathy Guillermo wrote in a complaint to Pasadena Police where the filming was taking place, “Three horses have now died and all the evidence we have gathered points to sloppy oversight, the use of unfit, injured horses and disregard for the treatment of thoroughbreds.” PETA has forwarded its original complaint about the deaths from the first two horses to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.


Is there a safer way to use animals in film under these circumstances? Are there sometimes accidents that happen which cannot be controlled by regulation and protocol? Were these horses being pushed to the limits due to a demanding production schedule?


Karen Rosa, Senior Vice President of Film and Television Unit of the American Humane Association

Kathy Guillermo, Vice President, PETA, specializes in horse racing