The Diving Horses of Atlantic City

diving horseThe diving horses performed at Atlantic City's Steel Pier in the 1920s and 1930s.  The horse would jump into a tank of water, typically with a young woman riding on its back.
Some dove with their front legs straight out, while others tucked up their legs as if they were going over a jump.  One horse would twist in the air and land on his side, making it dangerous for his rider.

‘The riders (all women) would suffer one or two broken bones a year.  Most of the injuries came from getting out of the pool of paddling hooves. They made it look easy, but it wasn’t.  Years ago a rider by the name of Sonora Carver (in the late 1920’s) went blind from a bad impact with the water.  The jump was sixty feet at that time, but was then lowered to forty.

‘Another horse, I think his name was Patches, drew quite an audience.  After making so many jumps he no longer waited for his rider.  He would charge up the ramp to the tower and take a running jump off the diving board, leaving the rider behind.  A couple of the girls tried to leap on him as he flew by, only to be left sailing through the air mount-less.

Further details and additional photos at the, via

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um well i have a horse my self so i now what i the limits are on him. while if a horse was forced to do that it wouldn't run up the ramp like they do because they would need to beat it every time. with horses we use them with so many thing because just see it has this way would you think that its animal crulety riding a horse well why do they even let us sit on there backs. people think they come to us for protection and over years there have learnt to trust us.
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I saw the diving horses in Atlantic City. No, they don't beat the horses. In fact, if they didn't want to go they wouldn't go. Fact is I've never seen a horse refuse to jump. I'm not saying none did, but I never saw any refuse to jump.
Horses are pretty smart. I recall General Meade's horse, Old Baldy, was wounded 7 times during the Americn Civil War, including at Gettysburg. One day Old Baldy refused to go into battle. Meade retired Old Baldy and both Old Baldy and Traveller, General Robert E Lee's horse, out lived both Generals. Don't cut horses short. After all, where do you think the phrase, "Horse Sense" came from?
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I've grown up around horses. I've been riding as long as i can remember and i can agree with the statement that a horse has a mind of its own and will do nothing it doesn't want to no matter what you do. theses horses were probably scared the first few times they did it but grew to love it. I highly doubt they were beat until they did dive. People who have never been around horses just need to be quite they just sound like complete idiots to us that have and know about horses. Just because you can read a book doesn't mean your an expert on these animals.
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well i say that if they didn't wont to jump off of the ramp they wouldn't of done so and animals have minds to if they didn't wont to they wouldn't of and i have 2 horses and they both have mind of there own and i would not force them to do any thing they wouldn't wont to do and to all of u have a good day

farm boy cowboy up
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okay, so recently read an autobiography on one of the girls that dived with the horses. the horses were never beaten, never harmed. forced sometimes at first, yes. but never hurt. the horses they used were handpicked from all over the country, and if the horse just really did not want to dive, they had to sell it and find another that was okay with diving. but the horses that dived loved doing it. there was even one that would run up the ramp and not wait for its partner, and dive alone. believe me, it was not like diving into an abyss. the horses enjoyed what they did.
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