In this case, I would tend to side with The Hobbit production over PETA. It's already suspect that all this is happening RIGHT BEFORE a premiere and not ages ago during filming. It seems a little weird to me that they seemed so meticulous and passionate about the care and training of the horses during LotR (there were mini-docs on the DVDs about the horses, loads of trainers, scenes with lots of horses were local riders w/their own horses not just set horses, several trainers/Viggo bought their horse at the end, etc.) then would become careless and cruel a few years later.