Jump to: navigation, search

Diving horse

File:Diving horse.jpg
A diving horse in Toronto

A diving horse is an attraction that was popular in the mid 1880s, [1] in which a horse would dive into a pool of water, sometimes from as high as 60 feet up.[2]



William "Doc" Carver "invented" the idea of horse diving exhibitions. Allegedly, in 1881 Carver was crossing a bridge over Platte River (Nebraska) which partially collapsed. His horse fell/dove 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.

Animal rights

The shows received very strong criticisms of animal rights abuses, which contributed to the decline of its popularity after WW2.[1] The horses sometimes dived four times a day, seven days a week.[2] There are allegations of using prods, electrical jolts, and trap doors to get unwilling horses to dive.[3]


  • From petticoated.com - [4][5]

See also

  • Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken film
  • Aquatic locomotion
  • Steel Pier


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Great Carver Show, Jumper, Diving Horse, and Sonora Webster the Horse Jumper
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dedicated to The Diving Horses
  3. Rex the Diving Horse, Lake George, New York

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...