steel pier will be the site of the new horse diving show
by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: Flickr/Holly Ford Brown Archives of Ontario

Who on earth would think that forcing a horse to jump off a 40 foot pier into a 12 foot pool would be considered a good idea? Apparently the money hungry executives in Atlantic City.

Unfortunately for horses, the diving show at the Atlantic City Steel Pier will be returning this summer. The show was a major attraction from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, but was then shut down. The spectacle involves a rider mounting a horse and then diving into the water.

Anthony Catanoso, the Steel Pier president, said about the revived show, “It’s iconic, it’s historical and it’s very popular.” He continued, “Nobody can show us any documentation that the diving horse act here on Steel Pier ever harmed an animal, ever produced any kind of cruelty or abuse. We would not do that.”

I’m thinking rodeos, SeaWorld and Ringling Bros. say similar lines about the welfare of the animals that they exploit for human entertainment.

NBC10 Philadelphia reports that Catanoso is hoping to open the show Memorial Day weekend.

Get ready for the petitions and protests. We have a feeling animal activists aren’t going to take this kind of cruelty sitting down.

*Update: This petition was started last night. It has nearly 3,000 signatures. Click to sign.

See below for an image of a horse diving without a rider.

diving horse show to open in atlantic city

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • Pamy

    wow you can t be serious !!! people go to their doors and make aware the public of this cruel show, so they boycott it !!! and remember if you VOTE, at least, do not vote for mayor, deputes, or president that allows animal slavery !

  • Nunyer Bidness

    Barbaric and in my opinion, criminal. Are people really going to delight in this cruel spectacle? Reminds one of hundreds of years ago when people would go to the town square to watch the weekly public hangings. What is wrong with Anthony Catanoso? Is he just a idiot?

  • Cheyla Daedulus

    Insanity = doing something that was done in the past because it was done in the past without regard to animal welfare. If you would not do it to a child, then don’t do it to sentient animals with the mind of a child. Would we toss babies into the water like this?

  • Ginasaye0529

    I don’t like this at all! WTH? Stupid humans…let them jump

  • Diana_a76

    I’m on it! There’s no way I’m going to sit back and let this happen!

  • Sharon Veronica

    This is terrible. In this day and age people know better. When a race horse gets a leg injury they put it down, and horses are bound to be injured. I would rather see them have a horse show, or a riding area for children and adults, than have them have these animals jumping like this! Why don’t they offer horse rides instead? Or photos with the FAMOUS Atlantic City FORMERLY-jumping horses? There are other ways to make money than putting these animals in danger. Folks, PLEASE don’t go see this show… no customers = no business = a quick end to this!

  • Ax2503

    What kind of idiot yokel still finds this entertaining?

  • Texasrangers

    Brutal….. Bunch of idiots.

  • Gail Formosa

    NO! NO Horse diving show

  • Anonymous

    The fact’s are, the Horse weigh’s so much, 40 ft drop into a 12 ft foot pool = harm and possible death to not only the horse but the rider as well. Yes this is animal abuse! I was planning on coming to the east coast this summer to see the shore and see family since i was born but not raised there. The possibilty of this horrible show opening has changed our minds. My family and many friends have chosen to boycott Atlantic City and the Steel Pier if this cruel show opens! If you want to gamble, see great show’s and the wonder’s of the desert, Come spend your money in Las Vegas! And to Mayor Lorenzo Langford, Jeffery Vasser of the Atlantic City
    convention center & visitors authority & Anthony Catanoso President of the Atlantic City Steel Pier, you all take that 40ft dive into a 12ft pool!

  • Anonymous

    GREED is the Evil here along with no respect for life at all, human or animal

  • Anonymous

    My father owned a retired Atlantic City diving horse. Whenever the horse was near a group of people it would become agitated and empty its bowels, no doubt traumatized from many years of being forced to participate in this cruel and ludicrous show. Animal abuse for the sake of human entertainment is just plain wrong.

  • Ahodges0229

    Very sad..think of the mental angish this puts a horse through..all for what? Making money?

  • Hidesertgirl

    Diving Horses did end up in the slaughter house.

    “In the late 1970s, when the original act ended, one horse named Powderface was sent to the slaughterhouse, several sources said. Another was auctioned off to a summer camp. A year later, in 1980, that horse was put back up for auction in Indian Mills, Burlington County.
    Branigan, then 26 and working with an organization called the Fund for Animals, was sent to the auction with instructions to get the horse, Gamal. She bid $2,600, coming pretty close to her limit.”

    Excerpt above taken from Feb. 12, 2012 by Amy Brittan/The Star Ledger

    Since horse slaughter was approved by Obama in November 2011and is now legal in the United States. What is stopping the horse management from sending these horses to slaughter once they are no longer useful?

    I proudly signed the petition!

  • Hidesertgirl55


    Anthony Catanoso, president of Steel Pier Associates, disagrees and told CBS News, “I would never allow an act on the pier to be in any way inhumane or abusive to animals. The fact of the matter is, the horses are not forced to do it. They are never harmed. There is no documentation of an animal ever being harmed in the 50 years they did it on Steel Pier — or certainly when we did it in 1993.” Digital Journal by Kim Hartman, Feb. 6, 2012

    There is one known case of a diving horse dying in action. Lightning, Sonora’s beloved diving horse, was practice-diving riderless at a tower on a pier. The show people wanted to see if the show could be done successfully into the ocean. Lightning jumped beautifully, then became confused and swam out toward sea. She became tired gave up, and went under. Lifeguards caught up to her and buoyed her up. She was brought back to shore, but couldn’t be resuscitated.?

  • Seraphael

    People are sick.. this is no better than watching beheadings from the past. Thank goodness we are not revisiting that barbaric ritual.