Atlantic City Diving Horse Act Creates Controversy

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If you watch Boardwalk Empire you are aware that the Atlantic City of yore was filled with some pretty bizarre attractions (exhibits displaying babies in incubators, Paz de la Huerta). Well, now one attraction that originated in the 1920s is set for a return, and is making animal activists angry. If the Steel Pier's owners get their way, the "diving horse" act -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- will be on view by the time people flock back to the beach.

In the plan for the new attraction, the horses and riders will dive off of a 30 to 40-foot platform into a 12-feet-deep pool, NBC New York reported.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, the Humane Society spoke out against the return of the act:

"The Humane Society of the United States emphatically opposes equine diving acts, which subject the animals to inhumane and potentially abusive situations in the course of their training, transport and performance," Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States, said in a written statement. "The stress and trauma endured by these animals, in addition to the risk of injury to them, make these acts unacceptable. They are senseless animal exploitation, for the sake of entertainment and profit."

The original act ended in 1978, but diving horses were brought back briefly in 1993. That show -- which had no humans riders, but a mule, a dog and two ponies -- was then closed after protests.

As strange and disturbing as it might sound, the diving horse has a long history in our area's amusement park. Amazon has a 1908 print of a diving horse attraction at Coney Island's Luna Park. Meanwhile, a web site "dedicated to the OLD STEEL PIER and those that loved it," features a page on the diving horses and what became of some of them.

[EstherZuckerman / ezwrites]

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23 comments
FireRescueChick27
FireRescueChick27

Come on people, horses wouldn't do it if they didn't enjoy it. Have you ever seen a horse when they don't.want to do something?...they won't do it. I would LOVE to see this show. How about you spend more time criticising things that need it.

Toriehorse
Toriehorse

Alantic city, where all your dreams come true, should not be acused of animal cruelty to horses. Horses loved running and jumping of the high piers. Most people got injured a lot more then their horses did. Beleive me i have been riding horses for 10 years, they wont do anything if they dont want to do it. Horses love going to shows around the world. Its just like taking your dog for a walk, or going to disneyland. Horse cruelty has not been takiing place in alantic city since the first horse diver sonora carver.

Judy Roy
Judy Roy

I am so revolted by this that I struggle to put the words together. I'll let Gandhi (heard of him?) speak for me: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  For goodness sake, Atlanic City, show some humanity and don't do this...

Jennifer
Jennifer

The petition against these cruel events has gotten over 11,000 signatures from around the world including many people in New Jersey. If you are against Steel Pier reopening their diving horse shows, please sign and share: http://www.change.org/petition....

Sandra
Sandra

Lisa, I am not making any excuses. I never once said that I approved of, or condoned, the abuse of horses. I am simply providing another point of view and contributing to this discussion.

So are you saying that all horses need to be left alone by humans? That horses should not be ridden and used for the rider's entertainment? If so, I find that interesting because if it was not for human interaction there would be no domesticated animals and all of the different breeds of horses that were created by humans would not exist.

What we should be doing is asking is for more information about this proposed act. I find that I am better able to come to an informed opinion when I have all of the information. At this point in time we do not have all of the information necessary. Hopefully, that information will soon be provided to the interested/concerned public.

Until that happens all of this is just speculation. (A conclusion, opinion, or theory reached by conjecture.)

Sandra
Sandra

I dont see a difference between this and most other sports involving horsesThe fact is that more horses die in racing than diving.Look at the horses that are injured and even killed while competing in the Olympics!People say that diving isn't "natural" for a horse to do. It is also not "natural" for a horse to carry a human on it's back and jump six foot jumps or race cross country, or even run around barrels at extreme speeds!However....if I horse likes to do it he will do it. When it comes to diving into water, I imagine it is the same.Horses are performers and can be trained to do many, many things.... some even enjoy it.

All that is being said against diving horses could apply to any horse sport that a horse is improperly trained for. Just as properly training for any horse sport could apply to this one as well. It's all about doing it appropriately. Abuse can and does happen with horses. It doesn't matter if they're high performing athletes or if they're sitting in the backyard asked to do nothing.

Corky Randall, one of the most cautious horse wranglers in Hollywood, was hired by Pegusus Productions to train the horses for the Disney movie: Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. A movie based on Sonora Carver's book: A Girl and Five Brave Horses. . The horses were chosen very carefully and only horses that liked the water were used. Training was done very slowly by first seeing if the horses liked to swim. They were allowed initially to swim in the tank made for the picture. As training progressed, they were allowed to step off one foot into water, then two feet and so on until they had reached the ten foot maximum. The horses always jumped on their own. There were no horses injured during the dive in either training or production and the horses seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. (The tank at the compound had to be blocked off when not in use because the horses and dogs on the ranch would run up and jump off on their own when there was no training being done.) What I do see here in this thread is ignorance of what 'should' be happening here. Does that mean it will happen as it should? No. I can only hope it does. But again, that statement applies to any time someone is interacting with a horse. There's nothing that makes this so 'special'. Do you also protest puissance jumping? Because that is by nature so much harder on the horse physically. And it definately isn't something a horse would 'naturally' do unless in a life or death situation.Heck even normal show jumping would have a harder physical toll than a horse simply leaping off of an elevated platform into a cushion of water!

What is the issue should be how the horses are selected and trained for this diving act as well as who will be responsible for their care and well being while performing AND what will happen to them when they are retired from performing!.

Doinit
Doinit

Why didn't PETA "Emphatically Oppose" Obama's Horse Slaughtering legislation that he recently signed into law??? PETA signed off on horse killing legislation....but will oppose a Diving Act, where no one can ever illustrate one example of where a horse was injured? That makes sense.

EVDebs
EVDebs

I'll leave the commenting on the humaneness of this to others; I'd just like to know what is the entertainment value that people find in watching a horse go for a dive — maybe it's because I'm not a fan of the Olympics or sports in general?

I can't imagine paying money or spending time on this, even as a 'curiosity.' I imagine that maybe back in the 20s when horses and rural people were still relatively common and there was absolutely nothing on TV because broadcasts weren't even invented yet that this might be a curious novelty, but in an age of the internet, video games, HBO, who would find "hur-dur that horse is diving like real people, derp" appealing?

saks
saks

Get a life people. This act went on for 50 years, and I don't recall a single instance where a horse got hurt. A rider was blinded, but not the horse. These are trained animals. If you protest this act, protest horses in circus acts, protest horses in parades, protest horses at race tracks

Sandra
Sandra

Please do not mistake the HSUS for the AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION!

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a radical animal rights group that inaccurately portrays itself as a mainstream animal care organization. The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead, but HSUS is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. HSUS is big, rich, and powerful. While most local animal shelters are under-funded and unsung, HSUS has accumulated $162 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.

Sandra
Sandra

The question is, diving  more dangerous than many of our horse sports today? Thoroughbred racing, eventing, steeplechasing, etc., are all very dangerous to horse and rider. Many animal-rights advocates say that they should ALL be abolished. Most horses love their jobs. They love to run, jump, cut cows, etc. There were a lot of people involved who wrote that the diving horses loved their job, also.

While I know nothing about any of the other horse diving acts I can say that in all the years of the Carver's act, there was NEVER a horse that was injured.Check out the following diving horse  video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... you can see in the video when the horses are ready they drop their front feet down to the kick off section and when they are ready they will push off and dive." Corky Randall, one of the most cautious horse wranglers in Hollywood, was hired by Pegasus Productions to train the horses for the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. The horses were chosen very carefully and only horses that liked the water were used. Training was done very slowly by first seeing if the horses liked to swim. They were allowed initially to swim in the tank made for the picture. As training progressed, they were allowed to step off one foot into water, then two feet and so on until they had reached the ten foot maximum. The horses always jumped on their own.Caution, and time was taken to choose the right horses and train them. Pegasus Productions conferred with American Humane throughout training, pre-production and production. There were no horses injured during the dive in either training or production and the horses seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. (The tank at the compound had to be blocked off when not in use because the horses and dogs on the ranch would run up and jump off on their own when there was no training being done.)".

Since horses can be trained to dive and there are those that enjoy doing it.... I will reserve my opinion until I learn more about whom is training the horses for this act and how they are being selected and trained.

Mitdaisy
Mitdaisy

If people don.t go to see this ,they won't make money and they will stop . IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY. Some thing else for new jersey to be ashamed of.

jt waldie
jt waldie

Mayor Langford I am sure you are aware that Atlantic City WILL suffer much economic downturn should you allow this to happen. This information has been deseminated across the globe and animal lovers are up in arms against this atrocity. YOU LOCALE WILL SUFFER ECONOMICALLY! YOU MUST RETHINK ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN. In the atmosphere of animal abuse perpetration, you cannot allow these foolhardly people to continue to abuse animals.

Snootiefox
Snootiefox

PLEASE! join together to stop this. Just another way man will make money at the expense of the poor animal.

Nunyer Bidness
Nunyer Bidness

I will certainly Boycott travel to Atlantic Cityif  they allow horse diving acts.Totally Barbaric and hideous cruelty. Idiotic.

Jbean124
Jbean124

There are abuses in training for every discipline.  However, there have been rumors in the past concerning diving horses, and because this is such an unnatural act for the horses it presents a lot of opportunity for abuse.  If all were trained as claimed in the movie and the conditions afterward were strictly monitored, I would have no objection.  Unfortunately these things are rarely watched closely as they should be.

Lisascaglione
Lisascaglione

Sandra...you are out of your mind. Excuse after excuse after excuse.  Its an absurd event. Use humans to do ridiculous stunts.........animals are being treated like puppets all over the world for the entertainment of numb humans who do not care about the animals welfare. They are being abused, over worked and killed. That is not entertainment..... people are outraged over this news. I live 15 minutes from A.C....My husand sells time shares there and let me tell you.....people are not happy. Lets evolve and think creatively about what we can do for entertainemnt and leave the  animals out of it. They are the ones that are suffering. Its not worth it.

Jbean124
Jbean124

The anti slaughter legislation had uninteded consequences.  Instead of saving lives the horses were transported in inhumane conditions out of the country to be slaughtered, making it even worse for the animals.  New bills are being held in committee to end not only the slaughter but the transport for slaughter.  Believe me, I would not defend the Obama administration as I oppose them on most issues, but the animals were suffering even more.

Proud HSUS supporter
Proud HSUS supporter

You must be one of Richard Berman's minions, taking every opportunity to advance his anti-animal agenda by smearing the HSUS. If HSUS is such a sham, why was it just given a 4-star rating (the highest possible rating) by CharityNavigator? http://www.charitynavigator.or... And why would an industry group like United Egg Producers partner with HSUS to improve living conditions for egg-laying hens? HSUS has never pretended to be a "parent organization" for local animal shelters. Instead, they work at the national level to confront cruelty to animals of all kinds, not just pets (as a quick glance at their website shows). They have plenty of support from local shelters, too. Here is one respected shelter director defending HSUS (as other directors have done) even after Berman threatened her for exposing his latest attack on HSUS as a scam: http://richmondspca.typepad.co...

The corporate sponsors of Berman's phony "charities" (HumaneWatch, Center for Consumer Freedom, and Humane Society for Shelter Pets) despise HSUS because it is an extremely effective organization that not only rescues animals from dogfighting operations, puppy mills, and other terrible circumstances (I should know -- I've volunteered with them for some of their direct-rescue efforts) but also works to PREVENT animal suffering and combat systemic forms of cruelty (such as gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for laying hens). Berman and his cronies would much prefer for animal lovers to direct all of their resources to local shelters and pet rescue efforts so that factory farms and other commercial interests that profit from animal suffering can just proceed with business-as-usual. It's very important to support your local shelter, but it's just as important to confront cruelty on a larger scale. That is why we need BOTH local shelters and HSUS. Both do great, essential work to improve animals' lives.

Toriehorse
Toriehorse

Horses love running, jumping, and most certainly diving. When Sonora Webster Carter dived horses, she was injured more then her horse, in fact none of her horses gotten injured. Its not as dangerous as any other horse (equine) sports out there.

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