Its A Rough Week To Be A Horse: HBO’s Luck and History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting

Still shot from HBO's 'Luck'. Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

HBO’s horse racing series ‘Luck’ faces an unprecedented number of horse deaths on set, raising questions about the treatment and well-being of animals being used in filming. In previous productions, even one horse death was extremely rare, the last known horse to be euthanized during a productionwas in “3:10 to Yuma” from 2007: Luck has lost three horses.As a result, Luck will end its first season abruptly on March 25 after HBO has decided to pull the show entirely. Whether this was due solely to the loss of life, or in combination with its low ratings is still unclear.

Full Metal Jousting competitor,Landon Morris, having just struck the black horse pictured in the face. Image courtest of Warming Glow.


History Channel’s ‘Full Metal Jousting’ suffered from a similar problem recently, after contestant Landon Morris was eliminated from competition for mistreatment of a horse in the show’s 5th episode ‘Hits Like A Truck’. Morris, is touted on History Channel’s website as a skilled equestrian and Muy Thai kickboxer (I guess we are lucky he didn’t kick the horse in the face).

Image courtesy of History Channel.

On his bio video he boasts that he is a “gentleman, warrior, scholar”, however in this episode we see a clear lacking in the ‘gentleman’ respect. The horse in question, presumably ‘Superman’ (as there are very few black horses used on the show) stepped a bit too far forward, landing on Morris’s foot. Now as an equestrian, I can vouch for the fact that there are several ways to get a horse off your foot: punching really isn’t one of them. In the past I’ve endured some particularly nasty stomping incidents, my last (and most painful) at HITS Saugerties when my horse CrackerJack lost his balance and slammed his hoof directly onto my foot to support himself:

This was taken with my cellphone after a few hours. I still rode on it, thankfully nothing broke, but to get my horse off my foot, I calmly pushed on his hip to get him to ease off it slowly.

In the case of Morris’s foot, it appears that the thick boots used on the show largely protected his foot from most of the weight of his 2,000 lb horse. However, his misconduct could be overlooked, and he was sharply reprimanded by the coaches of the black team. After sitting down with Shane Adams, Morris showed absolutely no remorse for his transgression, saying that,“I’m not upset that I did that. I did it for the right reason.” This coming from a privately trained polo player and long-time equestrian is extremely heinous. Was it the right reason? I’ve attached a clip from YouTube below. Watch it and tell me in the comments if you think it was fair for that horse to have gotten a knuckle sandwich:

Now bear in mind, Morris’s coach called it one of the “stupidest things he had ever seen”, so that should help you make up your mind a bit.

I can only hope that things start looking up for horses on television, because this week has been pretty rough on our furry friends.

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8 thoughts on “Its A Rough Week To Be A Horse: HBO’s Luck and History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting

  1. alcoz001 says:

    Very well written analysis of the situation. I agree that there is no situation in which punching a horse in the face is acceptable. Wow!

  2. gapped says:

    What if the horse punched you first? What if the horse had already gotten you fired from work, had hit on your girlfriend all night at the local bar, had shouted drinks for everyone in the bar, but then SPILT your shot all over you, while everyone laughed… What if the horse THEN said you had to pay for the shot, and gave you a shove… I think you are wrong alcoz001, I think there ARE situations when punching a horse in the face is perfectly acceptable.

    • SuzaneM says:

      There is NEVER ever any reason to abuse an animal…if you believe it is okay to do what Landon did – then you my stupid friend should be PUNCHED also!!!!!

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  4. Person says:

    I don’t think the punch was that bad. Considering that the horse was a HUGE draft type, and barely shuffled to get out of the way, I don’t think the punch even connected that hard. In any case, the horse was invading his space. “In the wild”, as people are likely to say, if a horse gets too close to another, the other horse is liable to fire off powerful kicks and bites. When the animal is literally made out of leather and muscle, I don’t think his punch was even enough for the horse to bat an eyelash at… Now I don’t suggest people go around punching horses, but I’ve frequently had to roughly “bop” my horse on the cheek because the 1,000 pound animal needs to be more mindful of my 100 pounds.

    • houseofnom says:

      Nope, in the wild, horses offer a myriad of non physical cues to tell another horse to back off. Even horses in a paddock will do it. And horses in stalls still communicate effectively by only body language.

      Landon by-passed every other method of moving his horse & went straight to the peak of physical violence. In terms of horse training, that’s just absurd. What about taking responsibly for yourself by leading the horse, then getting distracted & forgetting to ask the horse to stop, and maybe NOT punching him in the face when he walks forward on to your foot??! He had the reins in his hands – why not keep your cool, and back the horse off? Yeah, he had a horse standing on his well armoured foot – but it was hardly dangerous situation that needed violent correction. I can’t imagine why situation is ever made better by punching a horse in the face.

      So the act is one thing. But what clown doesn’t recognise he’s done the wrong thing after you have three experienced horsemen staring you down & grilling you for your behaviour? That is just painfully ignorant.

      Some people need a high five. In the face. With a chair.

  5. dojoson41 says:

    for you people who have NO knowlege of a horse’s head, it is very delicate, size dosnt matter. you NEVER EVER FOR ANY REASON! even if it did step on your foot,NO REASON NONE! to hit a horse in the head. one hit above the eye or around the nose/jaw can make the differance of life or death for a horse.To me landon has very little experiance around animals but then in his type of job ( auctioneer) very few people care about the welfare of the animal but there are some trying to change this.It was all landon’s fault for having the horse to cose to him in the first place.

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