As death-defying stunts go, hurling yourself off a 60-foot high platform on the back of the horse into just 12 feet of water must surely be up there with one of the most insane.
But back in 1920s Atlantic City, launching a horse off a platform almost twice the height of a 10 metre Olympic diving board was a daily occurrence.
What’s more, the ability to do it well could win you fame.
The amazing act was just one of the shows on offer at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, which opened in 1898 and was once America’s most famous amusement attraction.
Death-defying: The stunt had gained popularity in the state circuses which traveled America
Diving horse arrived on the pier in the 1920s, having become a fixture of travelling circuses previously.
It would go on to become the star attraction at Steel Pier, with crowds gathering to marvel at the dangerous feat as the horse flew off the end of 40 and 60 foot platforms.
Annette French, who dove horses from 1928 until 1935, throwing herself off the platform two to six times a day, told the New York Times in 2008: ‘We were the stars of the Boardwalk.
‘Everybody had to see the diving horse. That was what everybody remembered.
‘We were a class act.’
Star attraction: But it was when it arrived in Atlantic City in the late 1920s that the stunt really took off
Mrs French’s sister Sonora Webster Carver was arguably the best-known of the horse divers, whose story was immortalized in the 1991 Disney film Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.
She took her first dive aged just 15, in 1923, and became one of the best in the business.
But in 1931, her career could have come to a premature end, when she was blinded after a knock to the head which detached her retinas.
Ms Carver was not about to stop, however: she dove horses for another 11 years, while unable to see.
The trick to surviving the falls, according to those in the know, was to tuck your head down one side as the horse plunged towards the water below.
It is claimed the riders only suffered a few broken bones each year, while Mrs French told the New York Times the horses were so well looked after they ‘lived the life of Riley’.
However, despite animal protection officers were concerned about the act, it continued until 1978 – when the pier had fallen into such a state of disrepair it had to be shut.