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Leaked ‘Luck’ Docs Allege Drugged, Underfed, Sick Horses

Written by Michelle Kretzer | May 2, 2012

Just a month after HBO canceled Luck amid protests over the deaths of three horses, a whistleblower has released to PETA startling documents alleging abuse far beyond what anybody had guessed—and much worse than HBO or producers David Milch and Michael Mann ever admitted. See the full story in The Washington Post.

Among the information that the whistleblower released was this heartbreaking photograph, which allegedly shows the body of Marc’s Shadow, the 8-year-old arthritic thoroughbred whose leg fractured when he was being filmed in a racing sequence:

The documents, which are e-mails, notes, and complaints from the American Humane Association (AHA) representatives on the set, paint a picture of drugging, deception, and neglect. The following are among the allegations:

  • To save money, horses were underfed. One horse was an alarming 300 pounds underweight. Trainer Matt Chew proposed to cover the protruding ribs of another horse with a blanket during filming.
  • Horses who were sick were still used in filming.
  • Some sick horses disappeared from the set without explanation, and the trainer was warned that he could be charged with neglect.
  • Improperly trained, unprepared horses were used in racing sequences, endangering the horses and jockeys.
  • Horses were regularly drugged, including being tranquilized in order to keep them docile.
  • The trainer attempted to deceive humane officers by providing false names for horses, apparently to keep the humane officers from finding out that the horses were unfit for running the “races” required for filming.

The situation was so dangerous for the horses on the Luck set, the documents allege, that AHA-hired humane officers urged AHA executives to recommend the dismissal of trainer Matt Chew. However, there’s no evidence that the AHA acted on its officers’ advice.

PETA has presented this new evidence of abuse to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and renewed our request for an independent investigation. We will keep you updated.

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  • S. Garretson says:

    I know this is an old story, but I’m wondering, what was the fate of the remaining 46 or 47 horses?? Did anyone follow up on that??

  • Animal Girl says:

    Oh my gosh!! I am a HUGE animal lover…. As big as they come and I am so sad:(…… I wish people would wake up and smell the coffee!!! Animals need love! They have no sins…. Unlike people!

  • kim jackman says:

    Dont know why it upsets me that Dustin Hoffman was obviously a part of the cruelty seeings as he was the producer….it just does. wont watch him in any films ever again!

  • James Thomson says:

    Yes, the perpetrators are greedy, heartless scum. But how much worse are the no-brain politicians who ALLOW this to happen? They should be ashamed of themselves (which they won’t be, because they have no consciences).

  • zanda says:

    this is awful, those who call themselves humans should stop this immediately! i believe ( and really hope!!!) punishment will come..

  • Laura Bell says:

    Its a known fact in the movie industry that horses used in racing sequences of movies are often “kill” horses whom are having every, last ounce of being used taken out of them before they go to slaughter. I rarely ever watch movies (or commercials for that matter) with horse racing sequences since I found this out about 20 years ago (the horses are generally run for take after take after take–literally into exhaustion with some and many are often lame the whole time to varying degrees). I haven’t even watched the movie Secretariat because of it just in case horses I’m watching were run for take after take and then shipped. And those producers on “Luck” totally knew what was going on. I’ve been an extra in several movies and the producers, directors, and other “higher up’s” do not hold a bunch of sentiment toward anything or anybody. The only “real” people on a movie set are the other extras (pragmatic people who don’t get paid much), the lower echelon actors (who haven’t become huge ego people yet), and the stunt people (whom I knew many of them and they were generally really nice, down to earth people). Movie making is a racket thats based on either making and/or saving money; hmm, just like the mass production breeders and the trainers who start horses far too young in repetitive, rigorous training to get them ready for the 2 and 3 year old futurities and then use slaughter as a huge money saving tactic so they do not have to pay for humane euthanasia and disposal of bodies which would run them many thousands of dollars annually instead of being FREE as horse slaughter is. Follow the money folks, it’s ALWAYS about making and/or saving money when it comes to horses and other animals being abused and killed and the show “Luck: was just another example. Maybe if the higher up’s involved actually get in trouble they’ll think twice about abusing and killing animals if for no other reason they don’t want anymore fines and/or JAIl time. We can’t make people care, however, we can make them pay! Laura Bell http://www.thestarlightsanctuary.org http://www.starwoodfarm.com

  • corpse says:

    no comment thats how bad this is

  • glendys says:

    can you just make this people go to jail that put a smile on my face if this people when to jail no animals should go through this

  • Rebecca Rogers says:

    heartbreaking is an understatement. having worked with horses from all disaplines, and seeing first hand how much these animals want to please their owners is leaving me speachless. horses, because their drive to make their owners or riders happy are often tooken adavantage and pushed beyond their limits. the horse racing industry is a cult of people that see these animals as nothing more then machines. i lasted three days working on a delaware race track. i wanted to adopt a horse before it was getting shipped out and i was told too late that the meat man was willing to pay a set amount per pound and it was a done deal. thats when i said you are every bit of evil that i heard on the track and see ya!

  • nana says:

    i cant belive this. its so sickning !!!!!!

  • lone wolf says:

    this is truely sick!!! how can someone do this to innocent horses? if they were mistreating themselves (the person who did this) they would have stopped but no they had to use horses thank goodness that this show is canceled and will never be back on the air!

  • Leo Harvey says:

    Go after The racetrack, Santa Anita, they invited those clowns onto the Track and gave them full access.

  • Jim says:

    This is disgusting–to think we live in 21st century America with almost every luxury at our fingertips and we cannot even take care, and be good stewards, to our animals…pathetic, and film-makers have money! Donation forthcoming…PETA

  • lorena peinado says:

    Que lamentable que el hombre sea tan cruel con los animales que son completamente indefensos.

  • W says:

    This is sick. The person that runs this show should be thrown in jail for a long time.

  • lori rock says:

    No “LUCK” for these horses…just makes me angry!

  • Isabell says:

    This is just so sad:/ poor horses, they dont deserve this at all:( They’re so many cruel people out here that dont know how to treat animals and they dont know how special and talented animals are. They need to respect them and treat them right and treat them as they want to be treated. This makes me angry how they drugged and mistreat them. What kind of people do such a horrific thing to such a beautiful creation that god made:/ We need to make a change..

  • Siraganda says:

    Horses are by far the most abused animals in movies! I’m really happy that Peta finally reveals one of these shameful incidents, happening on so many occasions during filming! Horses are more at risk than chimpanzees! Peta should stand up and ask a special control during western and eastern movies, the last ones being worse because asian actors can’t even ride and in almost all the eastern movies horses are badly mistreated and malnourished! Tell Jackie Chan and other famous actors to take finally a stand against this cruelty – I’m waiting for years now without anything happens! The same thing is continuously going on with cows! Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore killed a cow brutally in front the the camera for his movie ‘Baaria’! I wrote to Peta at least four times without any your reaction! I just don’t unterstand this! In one email someone wrote to me: this film is dating from 2009! What does this mean – can animals, just because they are cows and horses – and not chimps – be mistreated in 2009? What is going on here – this is really a big questionmark!!!

  • lisa says:

    Have to say never heard of this series Luck, as in the UK but after reading about it im soo glad its not shoeed here. How can Dustin Hoffman just turn his back on these horses and still carry on he must be real hard up for money, for them to force a horse to run that sufferes from arthritis and hasnt run for years, can you imagine the pain this horse must of gone through utterly terrible.

  • Ann says:

    Anything for a buck. The unethical little groups in the entertainment industry. Where was star Dustin Hoffman? Still sticking with the show so he could collect his checks? His agent was told about these things again and again. Dustin, did your agent hide them from you or lie to you? If so, why is that agent still your agent?

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