Diving horses: An act best left in the past
(UPDATE: Plans to bring back the diving horse act have been scrapped.)
In what would be a stunningly stupid return to yesteryear, Atlantic City’s Steel Pier plans to bring back the diving horse act.
This summer spectators will be able to watch as horses ridden by stunt divers jump from a platform and plunge into a pool of water.
Perhaps you’ve seen grainy black and white footage of the event, in which swimsuit-clad women rode horses off a 40-foot platform. It began in the late 1920s and — with all due respect to nostalgia and extreme sports — should have stayed there.
Yet it’s returning as part of a multimillion effort to bring “family entertainment” back to Atlantic City. In other words — irony alert – let’s get all those folks we chased away with gambling to come back, and bring the kids, so that they might be traumatized and learn that animals are on this earth to help humans make money.
“This is a full-scale, custom act,” Tony Catanoso, one of the pier’s owners, told the Press of Atlantic City. “We know the diving horse is controversial, but I think people need to look at the bigger picture. A diving horse is going to be iconic. It’s going to be a small piece of the development project that will bring family entertainment back to Atlantic City.”
Plans for the show’s return were announced last week when the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved a $6 million contribution to the $20 million first phase of the Steel Pier improvement project.
Animal welfare groups are, of course, chomping at the bit, and a petition to halt the act is gathering signatures at Change.org.
“It just boggles the mind that they’re going back and doing this again.” said Janine Motta, a spokeswoman for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. “Certainly, we’ll be looking into finding out more about it.”
Motta was among the protesters when the show returned briefly in 1993, only to be terminated by the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, then the owner of the pier.
The Humane Society of the United States says equine diving acts expose the animals to “inhumane and potentially abusive situations in the course of their training, transport and performance.”
“The stress and trauma endured by these animals, in addition to the risk of injury to them, make these acts unacceptable,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the HSUS. “They are senseless animal exploitation, for the sake of entertainment and profit.”
HSUS was among the organizations that protested the short-lived return of the diving horse show in Atlantic City in 1993. It featured two ponies, a mule and a dog jumping 15 feet into a pool of water, and it lasted only a couple of weeks.
Catanoso says the event will be neither cruel nor inhumane. An out-of-state consultant is training three horses with trick divers that will rotate through the shows. The dives will be the finale to a 15- to 20-minute show at an amphitheater at the pier.
Expect some fallout on this one, as animal welfare organizations will likely mount a campaign against it. Expect as well that those involved with the act will step forward and say how much the horses enjoy it — much like greyhounds “enjoy” racing because it’s “in their blood.”
We’d suggest the brilliant minds behind this idea take a long walk.
Off a short pier.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abusive, animal protection league, animal welfare, atlantic city, casino, cruel, diving, diving horses, entertainment, equine, extreme sports, family entertainment, horse diving, horses, hsus, humane society of the united states, improvement, inhumane, initiative, new jersey, nostalgia, platform, pool, project, steel pier, stunts