Plan to bring back horse-diving canned

February 15, 2012

Plans to reintroduce the diving horse attraction at Atlantic City's historic steel pier have been scrapped, it has been reported.


Horse diving in Atlantic City in the early part of the 20th century.
The pier is undergoing a three-year $US100 million revamp which included plans to reintroduce the attraction, in which horses jump into a 12-foot deep pool from a height of up to 40 feet.

The plans drew fierce criticism from horse lovers and resulted in tens of thousands of people signing online petitions opposing the idea.

It is understood partners in the pier were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, but the Associated Press and Philly.com reported on Tuesday that Anthony Catanoso, the principal of Steel Pier Associates, said the plan would be scrapped.

He said he did not want the negativity generated around the diving-horse plans to cloud the positive things being undertaken at the pier.

Catanoso told Philly.com: "Instead of trying to rekindle the past we're going to preserve history and nostalgia in a new way".

The attraction ran from the 1920s to the 1970s, with up to four jumps a day scheduled at its height.

Steel Pier Associates, in earlier material about its plans, said it had conducted significant research into past practices, including speaking with people who were directly involved in the act that occurred in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

"Through this research, we determined there was no animal cruelty or abuse that occurred in the past.

"The new act will be humane, provide the horses first-class care, operate under modern safety standards to protect both the riders and the horses and will not subject the horses to cruelty.

"We understand and share the community's concern regarding the inhumane treatment of animals. For the past 20 years, we have been dedicated to providing wholesome family entertainment in Atlantic City. We are committed to that goal and would never feature any act that would mistreat an animal."

It said on its Facebook page: "Steel Pier management welcomes the reasoned opinion, pro or con, of our guests and does consider any constructive feedback or suggestions intended to help us make every component of the new Steel Pier, including the planned Diving Horse Show, a proud part of Atlantic City's revitalization. However, comments or posts of an insulting or non-constructive nature will be removed."

The president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, said a celebration was in order following news that the plans had been cancelled.

Pacelle, in a blog attacking the proposal, said the idea was stupid and smacked of the worst kind of hucksterism and snake-oil showmanship.