Horse Dies On Set Of ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’

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UPDATED with PETA statement: A horse involved in the production of The Lord Of the Rings: The Rings Of Power died on the set of the Prime Video series in the U.K. last week.

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that a production horse died on 21st March,” Amazon Studios spokesperson said. “The incident took place in the morning whilst the horse was being exercised prior to rehearsals. The trainer was not in costume and filming had yet to commence. Both a veterinarian and a representative of the American Humane Association were present at the time. The independent necropsy has confirmed that the horse died of cardiac failure.”

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According to sources, more than 30 horses were being used on the show that day, supplied by The Devil’s Horsemen, which has worked for such TV series and movies as Wonder Woman, Justice League, Transformers: The Last Knight, Game Of Thrones and The Crown, according to the company website. This is the first known horse fatality in the 50-year history of the company, owned by horsemasters Daniel and Camilla Naprous and their father Gerard, which is based in Buckinghamshire and operates in Europe.

The horse who died was standing with around 20 other horses when it suffered cardiac failure, sources said. Other horses had started rehearsing at the time while the group the horse in question was with was standing by. According to the Daily Mail, the horses were being prepped for a battle scene.

After the horse collapsed, everyone was asked to leave for 30-45 minutes while the body was removed. After that work resumed, sources tell Deadline.

This is a new horse supplier for The Rings Of Power, which moved production from New Zealand to the UK after Season 1.

While rare, on-set horse deaths continue to occur. Last summer, a horse collapsed and died during filming on the set of HBO’s The Gilded Age. At least three horses died on the set of HBO’s horse racing drama Luck, and more than a dozen animals, including horses, died during the making of The Hobbit. Such fatalities have fueled the debate about the use of animals in filming, with advocacy groups pushing for visual effects to be employed instead.

UPDATE: In a statement, PETA condemned the incident on The Lord Of The Rings prequel series.

“It seems that living underground with the orcs is par for the course for the producers of The Rings of Power, because they have the option to use CGI, mechanical rigs, and other humane methods that wouldn’t run vulnerable horses to death on set,” the statement said. “PETA is calling on the show’s creators—and all other producers—to take on a new quest without using any real horses. If they can’t avoid exploiting animals for their art, they should find a new medium, because no one wants to see a spinoff for TV with torment as the theme.”

During the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, whistleblowers reported multiple incidents of cruelty and neglect, including that horses died after being injured on set, a horse was tied up and left for three hours on the ground, goats and sheep died from worm infestations, animals were trampled, and more. Just before that, HBO canceled the horse racing series Luck, following the deaths of at least three horses. Last year, a horse’s death on the set of The Gilded Age renewed calls for an end to using horses for entertainment.

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