HBO Confirms Horse Died During ‘Gilded Age’ Season 2 Production, and PETA Is Outraged

PETA has slammed HBO for the death, writing, "Horses aren’t props."
The Gilded Age HBO Louisa Jacobson Denee Benton
"The Gilded Age"
Alison Cohen Rosa / HBO

PETA issued a letter to HBO’s Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys calling on the network to investigate a suspected horse death during “The Gilded Age” production.

HBO gave a statement following PETA’s request, confirming a horse died on set on June 28.

“HBO was saddened to learn that on June 28, during filming on the set of ‘The Gilded Age,’ a horse collapsed and died, likely of natural causes, according to a veterinarian’s preliminary findings,” HBO said in a press statement. “The safety and well-being of animals on all our productions is a top priority, and the producers of ‘The Gilded Age’ work with American Humane to ensure full compliance with all safety precautions. Following AHA’s recommendation, the horse was transported to a facility for a full necropsy. AHA has interviewed all involved personnel, and full necropsy results are pending.”

The PETA letter cited a whistleblower who reported that a 23-year-old horse with possible health issues died while filming Season 2 of the historical drama series in Nassau County.

“We’re calling on HBO to confirm the death, to conduct an immediate internal investigation into the incident, and to hold the party or parties who allowed it to occur responsible,” Courtney Penley, coordinator for animals in film & television for PETA, wrote, as reported by Variety. “Finally, we’re asking you to take measures so that something similar never happens again.”

This is the second occurrence of public knowledge where a horse has died during an HBO production. In 2012, Michael Mann-produced racing drama series “Luck” was canceled after one season following the news that three horses died while filming.

At the time, in a statement HBO said, “Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horse-racing 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.”

In the recent PETA letter, Penley penned, “These animals were unfit, arthritic, drugged, and pushed beyond their capabilities. Many weren’t accustomed to film sets and had received no training but were retired racehorses. We had hoped HBO might have learned something from that experience: namely, that horses aren’t props. They’re sensitive animals who can be startled easily, and they must be gradually accustomed to the changing conditions on a set.”

The PETA spokesperson continued that horses should not be used in film or television productions without an equine behaviorist, if at all.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.