Updated on 03/14/2012 2:38PM

‘Luck’ suspends filming after horse’s fatal injury


Filming of racing scenes for the HBO series “Luck” was suspended Tuesday after a horse that was scheduled to be part of the production reared and suffered a head injury that required the horse to be euthanized, according to statements released by the network and an organization overseeing the use of animals during the production.

The death was the third of a horse that was being used during the production of the series, which is being filmed at Santa Anita Park in Southern California. The shutdown is expected to remain in force until a necropsy of the horse and an investigation of the incident is complete, although filming for non-racing scenes of the series will continue.

According to officials, the horse was being led to his stall on Santa Anita’s backstretch by a groom when it fell backward and suffered a severe head injury. At the time of the incident, the horse was not involved in the production of a scene for the series, which is currently in its second season of production, the officials said.

Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, said that the dead horse will be sent through the CHRB’s necropsy program.

“Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year,” Arthur said in a statement released by HBO.  “They are more common than people realize.”

During 2010 and 2011, two horses that were participating in the filming of racing scenes for the series suffered catastrophic injuries, leading to criticism from animal-welfare groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The horses suffered the injuries while racing.

The use of horses during the production of the series is being overseen by the American Humane Association, which said in a statement released Tuesday that the horse who died had passed an inspection by a veterinarian just prior to the accident.

“While this incident did not occur on set, while filming, or during racing, we immediately demanded that all production involving horses shut down,” the statement said. “We are also insisting that this stoppage remain in full effect pending a complete, thorough, and comprehensive investigation.”