About 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 to lightning.

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 water.

  • 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.

  • Lightning’s 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.

  • Lightning’s 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.