A diving horse
is an attraction that was popular in the mid 1880s, in which a horse
would dive into a pool of water, sometimes from as high as 60 feet up.
William "Doc" Carver
"invented" the idea of horse diving exhibitions. Allegedly, in 1881 Carver was crossing a bridge over Platte River
) which partially collapsed. His horse fell/dived into the waters below, inspiring Carver to develop the diving horse act. Carver trained various animals and went on tour. His son, Al Carver constructed the ramp and tower and his daughter Lorena Carver was the first rider. Sonora Webster Carver
, William "Doc" Carver's daughter-in-law, joined the show in 1924. The show became a permanent fixture at Atlantic City
's very popular venue, Steel Pier
. There, Doc Carver's daughters and daughter-in-law continued the show following his death.
In 1931, Sonora Webster Carver
and her horse "Red Lips" lost their balance on the platform. Sonora survived the fall, but was blinded (caused by detached retinas
in both eyes). She continued horse-diving while blind. In 1991, Disney released a film titled Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
based on Webster's life and her memoir A Girl and Five Brave Horses
The shows received very strong criticisms of animal rights
abuses, which contributed to the decline of its... Read More