Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the News

Five horses die in two days at meet

Five horses have died in just two days at England's Cheltenham Festival jump racing meeting, including two on Wednesday that were injured in the Coral Cup.

Featherbed Lane lost his action and was pulled up after the fifth jump. It was later confirmed the seven-year-old had been humanely destroyed after suffering a broken leg, Sky News reported.
Abergavenny fell at the third and had to be put down because of a leg fracture.
Wishfull Thinking also suffered a fall in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, with the horse rolling under the rails and into a crowd of spectators.
Jockey Richard Johnson suffered a minor injury and a photographer sustained a facial injury, but the horse was reported to be fine.
The incidents came after three horses died on the opening day of the festival Tuesday after suffering bone fractures or breaks, including two during the Cross-Country Chase.
The news also came as HBO announced it was canceling the horse racing drama "Luck," after three horses died in production.

My thoughts or questions on what caused these tragedies are:

·      Are the courses too intricate or difficult for the horse to safely navigate them?
·      Could the riders not be experienced enough to guide their horses safely through the challenging courses?
·      Are the horses not fit enough and not up to the challenge of maneuvering over these complicated courses?
·      Or, worse are the horses simply over- faced for personal gain and glory to satisfy sponsors or egos? 

In my opinion some segments of the horse industry need to be looked into and guidelines and rules need to be put in place.  If people won’t voluntarily treat their horses fairly and humanely then protocols for the horses well being and safety need to be implemented.

Below are the stories I copied and pasted from the news if you’re interested in the HBO series “Luck” and what’s happening there. (I don't know the legalities of doing this but I hope it's allowed)

HBO suspends filming of horses after third death on set of 'Luck'

By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter

HBO has temporarily suspended the use of horses during production on Season 2 of its drama "Luck" after a third horse was injured on the set and euthanized.

The incident occurred early Tuesday when one of the horses in the stable for the Dustin Hoffman/Nick Nolte horse racing drama suffered an accident while returning to the stall.

Dr. Gary Beck, a veterinarian from the California Horse Racing Board, was on hand and noted the horse was on her way back to the stall when she "reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground."

Attending vet Heidi Agnic administered immediate aid and it was determined that humane euthanasia was appropriate, Beck noted.

Tuesday's incident marked the third time a horse has been put down as part of the horse racing drama from David Milch and Michael Mann; two horses were injured and euthanized during production of Season 1.
HBO is working with the American Humane Association and the CHRB to investigate the incident, with a certified safety representative on the premises of the Santa Anita stable in Arcadia, Calif., and noted that all safety precautions were in place.

"We will not be filming horses until AHA completes its inquiry. Production will continue with other scenes," HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
HBO noted it works with the AHA and racing industry experts to implement safety protocols that go "above and beyond" typical film TV industry standards and practices, with pre-race exams performed by a CHRB-certified vet with radiographs taken of the legs of all horses being considered for use in simulated racing sequences.

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

Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for production on the series to be shut down and blasted the production for its use of what they claim are unfit or injured horses.

"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," the animal-rights group said in a statement obtained late Tuesday by THR.

"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. Yesterday, we went to law enforcement about the deaths of the first two horses, Outlaw Yodeler and Marc's Shadow, because one was drugged and the other was arthritic. We will want answers on HBO's latest casualty. Filming must stop now."

Despite its critical praise, 'Luck' has been a ratings underperformer for the network, averaging about 625,000 total viewers. The series was renewed for a second season immediately after its lackluster premiere in order to fit production into the window between racing at Santa Anita. 

HBO cancels 'Luck' following horse deaths
March 14, 2012, 7:23 PM EST
The producers of Dustin Hoffman's hit TV series "Luck" have announced they are canceling the show following the death of a horse on Tuesday.
The tragedy marked the third time in a year that a horse had to be euthanized during filming at the Santa Anita racetrack in California.
And although the latest incident happened off-set in the stables area of the location, executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann have decided not to proceed with the remainder of the second season of the show.
A statement from HBO, the film company behind the project, reads, "It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann, together with HBO, have decided to cease all future production on the series Luck.
"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.
"While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won't in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.
"We are immensely proud of this series, the writing, the acting, the filmmaking, the celebration of the culture of horses, and everyone involved in its creation."
A joint statement from Mann and Milch reads, "The two of us loved this series, loved the cast, crew and writers. This has been a tremendous collaboration and one that we plan to continue in the future."
Luck launched earlier this year to rave reviews and was quickly picked up for a second season.
HBO bosses will continue to run all episodes filmed so far.

Sometimes it's hard to know the true facts concerning news stories.  Everyone's got their own opinions. I'd be interested to know what you think about this.

Until next time


  1. so much of horse sport is conducted irresponsibly today. unfortunately, where money is involved, you're also not very likely to get a straight story from anyone... :-(

  2. I posted a link to the "Luck" story on my Facebook page with the comment "Insanity." Which just about covers my thoughts on that AND on your report of the 5 horses in 2 days thing. I know freak accidents can occur but it sure seems insane to keep going when more than 1 horse suffers the consequences of either a show/event OR a TV show/movie.

  3. I really don't know why these accidents seem to be happening with such frequency lately, but I have noticed that equine sports as well as all other sporting competitions seem to be continually pushing the extremes of what human and animal bodies can experience without severe consequences...

  4. This is awful. I am glad that the show has been canceled. I have to wonder though, where the American Humane Society was in all of this. I thought they were responsible for making sure that animals used were not in harms way before filming and during. Doing an enquiry with the safety team after the fact doesn't sit right with me. "....noted that all safety precautions were in place."... Could someone be covering their butts?? The number of accidents leads me to believe that someone wasn't doing their job.....

  5. The amount of money put in horse racing is phenomenal, everybody involved has their own agenda, trainers are often under pressure from owners to enter horses in races leading to unfit and poorly prepared horses paying the ultimate price. I agree with jme, a lot of horse sports are conducted irresponsibly today, and it doesn't only apply to racing. The "Luck" story is shocking!

  6. Did you ever watch some of the steeplechase races in England? The drops are in is the sport.

    Too many times horses are treated the way you would treat a race car...I guess it doesn't matter if they live and breath. They lose their lives for human egos. Sick!

  7. I was watching the racing at Cheltenham Tues and Wed. If you have access to TVG channel you can watch the final day of racing if for not other reason, but to understand what those races are like. They are insane - some of the races have had up to 28 starters. I can't imagine trying to jump huge fences in a pack of horses at a racing gallop. The novice horses jump hurdles that are extremely forgiving - the entire panel will fall flat on the ground if it's hit hard enough. The two horses that died in the race Monday were two of the oldest horses in the field - the turf was listed as firm, and I think the trainers should have scratched the horses. I'm in a quandry - I love watching it, but I hate feeling like I'm supporting an amusement that abuses horses.

  8. It's always upsetting when horses are fatally injured. I never quite know if it's just some kind of freaky fate when it happens in multiples like that or if the physical conditions of the ground and challenge are just too much.

  9. I have often wondered if the advances in nutrition and training programs are actually detrimental to these horses. I'm also a believer that racing 2 y.o. is insane--their joints aren't fully developed.

    Just because they are tall doesn't mean they are strong.

    In the case of assigning blame in the race deaths or on the "Luck" show, everyone is going to circle the wagons.

    It's just very sad.

  10. I agree with Lori that many of these horses are treated like race cars. They are not machines. I see it in the barrel world as well. Those steeplechase races in England go above and beyond what an animal should be forced to do. It's very cruel.

    One of my pet peeves is people who compete on horses that are not conditioned properly. That's a large part of these type of accidents. And in racing, the animals are too young. It's very sad.

  11. Ellen T. WrightMarch 30, 2012

    There are all sorts of reasons-including just plain accidents-to account for injuries sustained in horse racing injuries. The fact that these horses are raced prior to their growth plates closing, their diet, the surfaces on which they are raced, the frequency of racing, the way they are trained, the possibility/probability of their racing with hairline stress fractures, racing with masking pain medications, and then you have combinations thereof. I suspect it is in the combinations that the true answers lie-but who is going to believe what?

    As my dear FIL used to say, that's about as rich as three feet up a male bovine's rear end. It's not that I'm against horse racing-I'm not. I'm against racing horses that are not fit to run under conditions that are not suitable-too muddy, too crowded, too hard (such as during prolonged droughts), etc. These are not machines-they are animals that deserve better from us.

    As far as British steeplechasing is concerned-yes, some of those drops do indeed look formidable. However, they are no worse than a Grand Prix show jumping course and they're a darn sight LESS than the eventing courses in the Olympics. The horses can do them-the problem isn't the obstacles-it's the speed and the crowding. The horses forget to watch their take-offs and mis-judge the leap. The riders cannot do everything!

    As far as CYA is concerned-of course, there will always be some of that. You bet. There's too much money involved.


It's so nice of you to take the time to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting on what I've written. Even though I sometimes don't have the time to reply to each comment, I do enjoy reading them.