Cast of Lord Of The Rings TV spin-off are left in tears as horse suffers a heart attack during filming of a 100-strong charge scene
A horse has died during the making of big-budget Lord Of The Rings spin-off The Rings Of Power, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Cast and crew were left ‘in pieces’ after last Tuesday’s tragedy at Shottesbrooke Park in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
The horse was one of 100 charging towards a camera while rehearsing a battle scene. It was wearing full regalia and had a rider on its back, although he is not thought to have been badly injured.
It was later determined the horse had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Filming was immediately suspended on the Amazon Prime Video series and some staff sent home, although production had resumed by the end of last week.
Sad: The horses in a battle scene from series one
Big budget: Morfydd Clark as Galadrie
Sources say that employees were still feeling raw from the incident. One told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It was absolutely heartbreaking. It came out of nowhere. One minute the horses were all charging down the field towards the camera and the next minute there was one on the ground.
‘The next thing we all knew, it was dead. It was awful. There were many tears and people were in total shock. The decision was immediately taken to stop for the day as it felt totally inappropriate to continue.’
The horse was taken from the set following its death and underwent a necropsy – an animal version of an autopsy – where it was established it had died of cardiac arrest.
The horse was one of many hired from leading movie industry supplier The Devil’s Horsemen, which has previously provided animals for The Crown, Wonder Woman and Justice League. It has more than 100 highly trained horses, which have been ridden by the likes of Emma Stone and Angelina Jolie.
The death will reignite the debate over whether animals should be used to make entertainment. In 2012, handlers who worked on the set of The Hobbit accused studio Warner Bros of allowing three horses, six goats and six sheep to die unnecessarily as they were kept in a farm filled with steep banks, sinkholes and other ‘death traps’.
The Rings Of Power is a drama set thousands of years before the events of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings.
Amazon bought the TV rights for Lord Of The Rings projects from the Tolkien estate in November 2017, making a five-season commitment to The Rings Of Power worth just under £1 billion. It has been described as the most expensive TV series ever made.
The first season, which starred Lenny Henry as Sadoc Burrows and Swedish-born Welsh actress Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, aired on Amazon Prime Video last year, attracting more than 25 million views in its first couple of days – a record for the platform. Filming for the second series, developed by American screenwriting duo J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay, began last October in Bray, near Maidenhead. Last week it was announced that Ciaran Hinds, Rory Kinnear and Tanya Moodie had joined the cast too.
Last month, Lord Of The Rings superfan Prince William, his wife Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte were given a private late-night tour of the set at a forest in Buttersteep Rise, Ascot, close to their home in Windsor, where they met the cast and looked at props.
A spokeswoman for Amazon Studios declined to comment but a source at the company confirmed that the horse collapsed prior to filming and that both a vet and a member of the American Humane Association animal welfare group were present on set.
They said: ‘It is a terribly sad story, our animals are really important members of our cast. Proper protocol was followed at all times.’