Our Horse Diving Show
For nearly three decades, Magic Forest has offered
summer visitors a unique, family-friendly experience that includes a diving
horse show twice a day. The show started in 1977 with Rex, our first diving
horse who entertained crowds for almost 18 years before retiring. Rex
lived out his retirement years here at Magic Forest, and died at the ripe
old age of 30.
Today, crowds are entertained by Lightning, a 13-year-old chestnut gelding
who lives at the park with Thunder, a 13-year-old mare another diving
horse, who retired a few years ago and continues to provide companionship
Below are a few facts on our diving horse show:
- Lightning jumps
on his own; he is led to the ramp and freely walks to the diving platform
(we use positive reinforcement to encourage him, providing oats after
each jump). We never force our horses to do anything.
- Lightning dives
9 feet into our 14-feet-deep, 30-feet wide, 117,000-gallon pool of
- Lightning swims
to the other side of the pool and walks up the ramp out of the pool,
to the applause of his fans (and a bucket of oats).
- A “day’s
work” for Lightning is 2 jumps — less than 2 minutes total
time; other than that, he’s free to lounge in his paddock with
Thunder. If it’s raining, Lightning gets the day off.
season is just two months long.
- The ramp Lightning
climbs is 60 feet long (providing a gradual slope to the pool). There
are wooden cleats every 6 inches to provide secure footing, and there
are windows along the entire ramp, providing light and ventilation.
diving represents behavior not often seen in domestic horses, but
provides an opportunity for our guests to see natural behavior of
horses where habitats offer opportunities for climbing slopes, jumping
into water, swimming and climbing slopes out of water.
* * Excerpted
from University of Pennsylvania Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. Susan
McDonnell’s report on Magic Forest’s Diving Horse show after
viewing Lightning’s performance.