Yellowstone season 3 ending: Why did Rip Wheeler put a horse down? What does it mean?

Yellowstone: Cole Hauser stars as ranch hand Rip Wheeler

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Yellowstone will return to the Paramount Network with season four in the summer of 2021 and fans are keen to find out what happened to the Duttons. They were targeted by anonymous killers and viewers are yet to discover who survived. Ranch hand Rip Wheeler (played by Cole Hauser) was seen putting down a horse at the end and fans believe it has a hidden meaning. 

Why did Rip Wheeler kill a horse?

The season three finale of Yellowstone was full of dramatic twists as the Duttons were targeted by unnamed assassins. 

John Dutton (Kevin Costner) was shot, while his daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) was caught in an explosion and Kayce (Luke Grimes) was left to fend off a group of gunmen. 

Rip was not caught up in the attacks, but towards the end he started to suspect something was not right. 

He was seen putting an injured horse to sleep, and fans have linked this back to the pilot episode, making an important connection. 

In the pilot, John Dutton is involved in an incident and must put down an injured horse.

In the season three finale, Rip was forced to do the same thing as vultures were circling above an injured horse.

Fans have suggested that vultures symbolize a major death on the show, and they believe the mercy killing of a horse foreshadows Rip taking over the ranch from John when he dies. 

They have taken to Reddit to discuss what the season three finale moment could mean. 

One fan said: “Foreshadowing that Rip is going to kill a 1000 men in the name of that ranch bc honestly it is his whole life.

“That ranch means as much to him as it does John. The kids aren’t as attached to it. They have had it beaten into them by John.

“Jamie didn’t set this up bc he would have known to take out Rip. That little ambush is just a Tuesday morning for Kayce, kills a man a week so this is nothing for him.

“Beth should be dead, I just hope we don’t get a season of her in a comma dreaming or rehabbing. Monica might be in some trouble we can’t really tell but Kayce will save her.

“John is eventually going to have to reap all the bad **** he has sown just not this season. He will die at some point.” [Sic]

Rip was also known to have said a famous quote in the series – “I would rather kill 1,000 men than shoot a horse”. 

With this in mind, viewers have suggested he has given up on humanity, which is why he put down the horse at the end. 

Another added: “Rip killing that horse culminates what we, as viewers, have been feeling all along.

“‘I would rather kill 1000 more men, than shoot another horse’. Just to shoot that ******* horse anyways.

“The road the show has been driving has been one full of existential dread and panic attack inducing anxiety, and this whole valley is dying.

“But Rip is okay, for now at least, and he is a part of this family. Both from the house/land he was gifted in S2, and the upcoming marriage.

“He will be the one to pick up the pieces moving forward. No matter what happens next, we cant always count on Rip. The bullet in the horse’s head proves it. Now season 4 will show it, and I cant ******* wait. Bout to brand myself. Like walker would say, **** it.” [Sic]

Actor Hauser has already teased his character will go on a rampage in the upcoming season four. 

The cast has jokingly suggested the first episode should be titled ‘Wrath of Rip’, suggesting something bad happens to someone close to him. 

This could mean his fiancée Beth dies, or something happens to John which causes Rip to snap. 

Fans are expected Rip to become the ultimate killing machine in the new episodes, and they are excited to see a change in his character. 

Yellowstone airs on Paramount Network. 

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