Memory of horse deaths mars opening of Flicka the movie

Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.
Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.

LOS ANGELES, California (Oct. 17, 2006) — “Flicka” is a feel-good movie about a wild horse and the teenager who tries to tame her. However, the making of the movie was anything but feel-good for the horses killed during its filming.

The American Humane Association, who oversees the safety of animals on movie sets, had four representatives on the set of “Flicka” from the first day of production, and pre-approved all activities planned for the horses. It was under the AHA’s oversight that two horses were killed within the span of two weeks.

On April 11, 2005, the AHA reported that a horse broke his leg and was euthanized. In a studio briefing dated April 25, 2005, the AHA disclosed that a second horse broke his neck and died during the filming of “Flicka” two days earlier.

Observers of the second event were quoted as saying that the horse was one of four who were galloping around an arena trailing 30-foot ropes and fell when his back legs became entangled in the ropes. Others reported that two horses stumbled, presumably over the ropes, and collided.

An eyewitness account sent by email to the Int’l Fund for Horses alleged that in creating a wild horse race for “Flicka,” a group of horses were “released into an arena with wranglers jumping on the terrified horses, biting them, dragging them down and otherwise assaulting them.” The horses panicked and two collided heavily into each other. One of the horses did not get back up, sustaining a broken neck, and died. There were conflicting reports on whether or not the horses were trained rodeo horses.

“It doesn’t matter if the horses were trained or not. Trailing long ropes behind galloping horses, intentionally frightened to boot, is a recipe for disaster. A terrified horse will fight or flee, and injuries are bound to happen,” states Int’l Fund for Horses President, Vivian Farrell.

The Screen Actors Guild pay the AHA to monitor animal use in films and award the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer according to standards set by the organization. After the deaths of the horses, the AHA did an internal investigation and concluded the deaths were “unavoidable” and that there was proper oversight on the part of the group. However, they agreed that the movie would not be given the usual “No Animals Were Harmed”® credit at the end of the film.

“Whether or not the deaths were unavoidable I cannot state without reservation. However, it is crystal clear that animals were harmed, harmed to the point of death,” comments Farrell.

Fox 2000 Pictures releases “Flicka,” the long-awaited movie remake of Mary O’Hara’s treasured novel, starring Tim McGraw and Alison Lohman nationwide on October 20th.

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