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Katherine Blocksdorf

Diving Horses

By December 11, 2010

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I recently watched a documentary about the Steel Pier in Atlantic City and there was a short segment about the 'diving horses'.
Image: Getty Images
I'd had never heard of this and found it very odd that anyone would do this for entertainment. Horses were ridden up a steep ramp to a platform 30 to 40 feet in the air. It's claimed that the horses jumped willingly from the platform into the pool of water below. But watching some of the YouTube videos that I found, it almost looks like the platform drops down. Online information claims that the horses were never hurt, although the riders, usually young ladies, often were.

Diving horse acts weren't only performed in Atlantic City, but in Miami, Florida and Texas as well. The Atlantic City shows first began in the 1900s and ended in the late 1970s when animal welfare organizations stepped in.

I have some ideas about how the horses were trained to climb the ramp and then jump from the platform, and why they would continue to perform. But I'd be interested in seeing what you think. Some people think this was cruelty, others believed the horses liked what they were doing. What is your opinion? Leave your comments below.


February 14, 2012 at 10:06 pm
(1) Dana says:

You’re dumb. The platform does not drop out from under them. The thing you’re referring to is a board they kick off of during the dive. Check out this video for a clear idea of how the jump goes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67c3IY7RpJw&feature=related. Hope you did more research for you other articles than you did for this one.

February 16, 2012 at 9:08 am
(2) Katherine says:

From Rueters: Atlantic City high-diving horses revival scrapped after protests | Reuters. “Catanoso said he was reacting to mounting protests over the stunt in which a horse climbs to the top of a 40-foot tall platform which tips, plunging the animal and its rider into a 12-foot deep water tank.” Read the article for this quote and other details.

February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am
(3) Kathy says:

If you read my blog, you’ll see that I say ‘some’ of the videos I watched appeared to show platforms that dropped down. The video you sent me obviously does not show that. Take a look at more videos of these performances and see for yourself. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. I won’t call you names or question your credibility.

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