Atlantic City attractions: What happened to the Diving Horse?
Atlantic City has always been full of attractions, serving as a kids' playground and an adult fun house. It had it all. Parents knew that if they jumped in the car there would be plenty to do once they got down to America’s playground.
One attraction that was a must-see was Atlantic City’s diving horse .
l was a kid when I saw the horse jump from a 40-foot platform with a diminutive lady rider into a pool of water that was 10 feet deep.
I couldn’t believe it. It was exciting yet disturbing. I remember thinking how much does that horse want to do that? Of course, people protested due to concerns of animal cruelty to the horse towards the end of the act.
The act lasted 50 years and as a result of the protest, the last diving horse named Gamal was put up on the auction block in May of 1980.
Cynthia Branigan, the author, rescued Gamal and provided a safe haven for the horse to run and graze in pastures and get the attention he deserved.
The history of horse diving goes back to the 1800s when Wild West showman William “Doc” Carver partnered up with Buffalo Bill Cody in 1883 and after one season Doc Carver and Buffalo Bill separated and Doc Carver went on to create his own Wild West show as did Buffalo Bill.
It was in 1894 when Doc Carver invented the act of horse diving from a high platform into a pool of water. It was the talk of every town where he showcased his act.
He ran the horse diving act right up to his death in 1927 when Doc’s son Al Carver and his wife took over the act and moved it to Steel Pier in Atlantic City.
Horse diving was a huge tourist attraction for 50 years, the latter years under animal cruelty protests as you can imagine.
The horse diving act is a sign of how far we’ve come in both entertainment and the protection of animals. For more information on the book “The Last Diving Horse in America” by Cynthia Branigan you can click the link.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.
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