When a horse on the set of HBO’s “Luck” was euthanized on Tuesday, it wasn’t the first. It wasn’t even the second. The horse reared up and flipped over while being led to the barn, hitting her head. On-site veterinarians examined the horse and determined that euthanasia was the only course of action, making that mare the third horse to have lost its life on the set of the hit drama.
American Humane Association monitors animal action during filming of TV and movies. AHA inspectors at the set halted filming of any scenes that included horses after the third incident to complete an investigation into safety protocol.
On Wednesday, March 14, the show’s producers announced they were pulling the plug on the series, which had earned respectable ratings and positive critical reviews during the few months that it aired. Filming had already begun on a second season.
In a statement released by HBO announcing the show’s cancellation, the network stood by its safety protocol.
“Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures.”
The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database shows that, on average, there are two deaths for every 1,000 starts in Thoroughbred racing, although that statistic does not include deaths that occur during training.
An article in Variety suggests that the high cost of producing the show and creative friction between some members of the all-star cast and crew may have made the decision to can the show easier.