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  • Nebraska, U.S.
    1881

    Crossing a bridge

    Nebraska, U.S.
    1881

    William "Doc" Carver "invented" 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 Floyd Carver, constructed the ramp and tower and Lorena Carver was the first rider.




  • Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    1924

    Sonora Webster joined the show

    Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    1924

    Sonora Webster joined the show in 1924. She later married Al Floyd Carver. The show became a permanent fixture at Atlantic City's popular venue Steel Pier. There, Sonora, Al and Lorena continued the show following his death.




  • U.S.
    1931

    Lost their balance

    U.S.
    1931

    In 1931, Sonora and her horse Red Lips lost their balance on the platform. Sonora survived the fall, but was blinded due to detached retinas in both eyes. She continued horse-diving while blind.




  • New Jersey, U.S.
    1970s

    The act being shuttered

    New Jersey, U.S.
    1970s

    A horse diving show was an in-residence act held at New Jersey's Steel Pier. Pressure from animal rights activists and declining demand led to the act being shuttered in the 1970s.




  • Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    1978

    Loading of the pier

    Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    1978

    Atlantic City's Steel Pier was also used to mount a measuring device to monitor changes in the sea level of the Atlantic Ocean. However, changes in sea level at the pier turned out to have been caused by the weight of the crowds gathered to watch the diving horses. Measurements from 1929 to 1978 indicated sea level rise – when the crowds were regular and caused the pier to settle slightly in the soft, sandy bottom – except during the horse-jumping hiatus from 1945 to 1953 when the lack of regular crowds allowed the pier to rise slightly.




  • U.S.
    1991

    Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

    U.S.
    1991

    A film based on her life, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, was released in 1991.




  • New Jersey, U.S.
    1993

    Shut Down Again

    New Jersey, U.S.
    1993

    Although there was a brief resumption of the act at the pier in 1993, it was again shut down amid opposition. The horses sometimes dove four times a day, seven days a week.


  • Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    2012

    2012 Attempt

    Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
    2012

    An attempt in 2012 to revive the shows at Steel Pier was halted when animal welfare advocates petitioned the owners not to hold the shows. The president of the Humane Society of the United States stated: "This is a merciful end to a colossally stupid idea".


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