‘Yellowstone’ TV: What Is the Significance of the Horse Rip Mercy Kills in Season 3 Finale?

by Thad Mitchell
(Photo Credit: Yellowstone Gallery, Paramount Network Press Center, Viacom)

We are now just weeks away from the return of hit Paramount Network series Yellowstone for its fourth and newest season.

The long hiatus for the show has not stopped fans from talking about Yellowstone and what could be in store for the new season. Online forum communities, like Reddit, have become home for Yellowstone fans to discuss and debate the future of the ranch. Yellowstone fans love to theorize on the meaning of certain scenes or events that happen on the show. A recent Reddit thread discusses a particular scene from the third season finale and what it could mean the larger scope of Yellowstone.

In the third season finale, we see Yellowstone Ranch foreman and Dutton family enforcer Rip Wheeler mercy kill a horse. He doesn’t enjoy the task and laments having to put down the horse. The horse is gravely injured and putting it down and out of its misery is the humane thing to do. This scene plays out at the same the Dutton family comes under attack from unknown assailants. Now, some fans believe the scene could be a metaphor for things to come. Reddit users certainly have some interesting theories on what Rip’s scene might mean. One Yellowstone fan points to a common theme in show creator Taylor Sheridan’s recent works.

“I think it literally comes down to how urban expansion is killing the Wild West,” the Reddit poster surmises. “Metaphorically and literally. That is a constant theme in Sheridan’s films.”

Yellowstone Fans Share Theories on Rip Wheeler Scene

Another Yellowstone fan says the scene is foreshadowing future events on the ranch and there could be more attacks on the ways.

“I have heard some speculation it was part of the wider effort to harm anything associated with the ranch,” the poster says. “It was used to foreshadow the attempts on the family — as good a guess as any.”

Another Reddit user wonders aloud how the horse became ill in the first place. In the scene, it appears the horse has a gash on it’s back leg and the poster theorizes how it may have gotten there. It also plays into the “additional attacks” theory that some Yellowstone watchers believe.

“I’m guessing the scene is more thematic or foreshadowing than plot oriented,” the poster says. “But, a possible explanation is shrapnel from the explosion we possibly hear at the ranch.”

Many fans believe there are additional attacks that occur at Yellowstone Ranch that the viewer doesn’t see. They say an explosion can be heard in the final phone call between Kayce and Monica Dutton.

There are tons of theories that Yellowstone watchers cannot take from the Rip Wheeler scene. With the new season growing closer each day, answers will be arriving soon.