The End of the Diving Horse

I saw a diving horse once. Twice, really.

His name is “Lightning” and he lived on the grounds of a Post WWII “Storyland” amusement park in Upstate New York. The handler would walk the tired horse over from its stable at the bottom of the hill up to a small corral. Then Lightning would be walked around in circles until the horse “decided” to go up the ramp that would lead to the pool. Lightning wasn’t shoved up the ramp but wasn’t really given much choice as to how the event would end. Go up the ramp, slide reluctantly about 5 feet off the other side of the ramp and down into the water. And the audience would wait until the action was complete.

This month, the amusement park was sold. It will reopen next year – I assume without a diving horse.

This past weekend my family returned to Long Island to say goodbye to one of our own. On the way home, we made a visit to Atlantic City and walked the beach to give the kids a break from a fairly harsh and kind of seedy boardwalk. My husband pointed out the remains of the original Steel Pier, which was once the home of its own diving horse. There is little sign of that past now, besides tired pilings and a few boards leading out to the ocean.

This has been a big year for me. I took a break from the corral. I found a bit of success and I feel better for it. It’s been hard being patient as I understand how much I have to learn while also focusing on what I’m teaching the small people around me. But it’s been a year of readjusting myself into a refreshed being.

I’m not going to lie – in some ways, I know it would be easier if I walked up the ramp. The world around me would be more comfortable if I just sucked it up and slid back in that pool while an audience sat awkwardly by, applauding with confused looks on their faces. Everyone there knows that’s the job but clearly it’s not right for the animal who has to do it.

I suspect in the coming year I’ll have spent enough time away that the corral may be gone altogether, or at least no longer accessible as a fall-back.

I wonder what Lightning is up to this winter.

One thought on “The End of the Diving Horse

  1. Great entry. The recent visit to LI must have stirred more than a little existential angst. Regardless, I feel every word in my trick-horse bones. I might need to go back to the corral if I can’t make a better go of the editing and teaching. As I eye my prospects at the end of the ramp though I get achey all over.

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