'Production Horse' Working with 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Dies on Set

The horse died on March 21 ahead of rehearsals for Amazon Studios' fantasy streaming series, according to a statement provided to PEOPLE on Monday

Morfydd Clark as “Galadriel”; Lloyd Owen as “Elendil” in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

A production horse on the U.K. set for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has died, PEOPLE can confirm.

The horse died due to cardiac failure on March 21 ahead of rehearsals for Amazon Studios' fantasy streaming series, according to a statement provided to PEOPLE.

"We are deeply saddened to confirm that a production horse died on 21st March," a spokesperson for Amazon Studios shared in the statement. "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."

According to Deadline, filming sources told the outlet that around 30 horses were on set at the time of the horse's death and that the animals were provided by The Devil's Horsemen, a film industry horse supplier that has worked with major TV series and motion pictures such as Wonder Woman, Game of Thrones, The Crown, Justine League, and Transformers: The Last Night. The Buckinghamshire-based equine company in South East England is known as the most respected in the industry, with trainers priding themselves on putting the welfare of the animals first.

The sources also noted to Deadline that the deceased horse exhibited no health problems before its death on the Rings of Power set. This is reportedly the first on-set horse fatality for The Devil's Horsemen in the company's 50 years of business.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER, 'Udûn', (Season 1, ep. 106, aired Sept. 30, 2022). photo: ©Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection
Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

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According to Variety, the horse was standing around with roughly 20 other horses when it collapsed. After the death, everyone was reportedly asked to leave the set for 30-45 minutes while the horse's body was removed.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) provided a statement to PEOPLE on the unfortunate incident, voicing its belief that productions should no longer be using real horses on shoots.

"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," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in the statement to PEOPLE. "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."

"Animals can't rely on protection from filmmakers or on-set monitors who regard them as props. PETA hopes this tragedy will encourage those who witness on-set cruelty or neglect during productions to come forward. They or anyone who has read a script that left them concerned about the proposed use of animals can contact PETA's whistleblower hotline at 323-210-2233 or visit PETA.org/Report. Anonymity will be respected," Lange added.

A similar horse fatality incident occurred last July — unconnected to The Devil's Horsemen — on the set of HBO's The Gilded Age. In response, PETA wrote an open letter to HBO demanding that the network show accountability and reevaluate its animal wrangling practices.

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