Animal cruelty: High diving mules forced to dive into pool of water

These are the shocking images that show two mules being forced to high-dive into a pool of water in front of jeering crowds in San Antonio, Texas.

The two terrified animals, called Smokey and Dipsey Doodle, are forced with a whip up a steep ramp to a ledge.

From there the terrified mules - a cross between a donkey and pony - plunge headfirst into a 6ft deep pool of water 22ft below.

They emerge shaking and frightened - only to be forced to do the same thing again to please baying crowds of up to 300 people.

Scroll down to the video (some people may find it upsetting)

Terrifying: Mule Dipsy Doodle is forced to high-dive from a platform into a pool of water 22ft below
Terrifying: Mule Dipsy Doodle is forced to high-dive from a platform into a pool of water 22ft below

The sick show - called All American High Diving Aqua Mules - was started by redneck Bill Rivers - who claims to be an 'animal trainer - and it is the climax to a rodeo at the Pipe Creek ranch, which he owns.

It has been said that the stunt is like a scene from MTV show Jackass where people jump from heights into small pools.

Viewers pay $6 each to watch the show which follows a two-hour rodeo featuring sheep-riding kids and cowboys. Texan and American flags decorate the pool and the ramp as they glorify the horrendous animal cruelty.

In a video from just one night of the stunt, Smokey is seen walking up the steep ramp. He reaches the steep drop at the top but is scared, and repeatedly backs away from it. But at the bottom of the ramp a whip is being cracked and down below next to the pool are children wearing Stetsons who chat 'jump, jump'. After being frightened and trying to get away for more than a minute, Smokey eventually inches closer to the edge before diving into the pool below.

During a practice runs, which sees Smokey the mule bell-flop into the 'pool', Bill is heard yelling 'yee haw'. His excitement is clearly visible.

Laughter and chanting can be heard from a 300-strong crowd in a secret video of the event recorded by former British newspaper, the News of the World, one of many excellent examples of its work in exposing animal cruelty.

Despite the outrage from audiences around the world, the police and and local authorities in the town where this cruelty happens do not have a problem with the show, or the poor treatment of the mules. They have even allowed the mule show to continue. The mule-diving show is not banned in Texas, but it is illegal in four other states.

But animal lovers and welfare groups are sure to be outraged by the scenes - which undoubtedly cause immeasurable suffering to the poor mules.

Equine creatures do NOT swim underwater - and being submerged is completely unnatural and frightening to them.

The impact of belly-flopping onto the water will cause damage to their sensitive joints - as well as psychological trauma. Furthermore, their hearts will be put under massive strain because of the shock of leaping from such heights.

Painful: Smokey dives headfirst into the water
Painful: Smokey dives headfirst into the water

Bill Rivers claims that the animals have done the jump thousands of times and that it's 'pretty good' and they 'enjoy' it.

'We're getting some flack over it, and it's mostly from people who have never seen the act,' Bill Rivers of the Lightning Ranch said. They are just making assumptions before they really know what they are talking about.'

But British and American vets have condemned the appalling stunt - but still it is allowed to continue.

Even though there are innumerable fears for the safety of the animals, they are still being humiliated in the show. So what can be done to help stop this shocking case of animal cruelty?

  • Contact the Bandero County Judge Richard Evans to make him aware of the appalling treatment. His email address is
  • Report this event to animal welfare charities in the US
  • Alert people around the world to this abuse and cruelty by sharing this hub

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Comments 32 comments

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

That's terrible - not entertaining at all. I hope they have something like RSPCA in America to ban it.

Good of you to raise awareness.

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I can not believe this type of behavior still happens in the US. I will contact the mayor now.

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

Lady_E, that's a great point. Does anybody know if there is an equivalent of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in America?

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

John B Badd, great stuff contacting the mayor!

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

They responded Rick:


Thank you for your email to Mayor Julian Castro regarding the "aqua mules" in Pipe Creek, Texas. Mayor Castro is mayor of the City of San Antonio, and has no jurisdiction over the town of Pipe Creek. I am forwarding your concern to Bandera County Judge Richard Evans, who has jurisdiction over Pipe Creek.


Sarah McLornan

Constituent Services Director

Office of Mayor Castro

(210) 207-8998 office

(210) 207-4168 fax

so apparently judge Richard Evans in Bandera County is the one we need to talk to.

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

This was my short letter they responded to:

Dear Mayor Castro

A friend of mine made me aware of some sick behavior in your town, forcing mules to high dive into a 25 foot pool. I am mortified that this type of behavior still occurs in our great nation and I am shocked it is allowed to occur in your town. I think you should stop this immediately.

If you want to know how this can have a negative impact on your future just think about what happens to pro football players who allow dogs to be harmed.

This link will let you know what I am talking about:



Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia 6 years ago from Philippines

these things are breaking my heart.. made me want to hug my dogs...

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

That's an excellent letter you've written to the Mayor, John B Badd. Thank's for finding out that it's actually County Judge Richard Evans who's the correct person to contact.

Would you mind if I use your letter as a rough template that people can use to contact Judge Evans?

finatics profile image

finatics 6 years ago

That's awful- how do people stand to watch it? Or even, how can some possibly believe it's not completely terrifying for the mules?

I hope it's banned soon.

James 6 years ago

You might want to watch the video before commenting further. Do NOT believe what you read... apparently they are "forced with whips". Watch the video

I will give everyone 10 quid if they can spot a single whip being used.

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

James, watch the whole video. At 0:42 the trainer can quite clearly be seen with a whip. At 0:55 he whips the mule to force the animal up the ramp.

Looks like you owe me 10 quid. Message me for my details.

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

finatics, not only dio people PAY to watch it theu then CHEER. You're right, it's terrible for the animals. Thanks for showing your concern. Rick

tim 6 years ago

this has been going on for years right? tis a really old circus trick. looks awesome.

123fritzi 5 years ago

such an idiot! sue him!

Deb Kidwell 5 years ago

I too will contact everyone that you listed Rick, plus horse friends in San Antonio....I thought that this disgusting type of sideshow crap had died out in the 50's and 60's - Guess Not! As a breeder of mules I am sickened by this.

Deb Kidwell 5 years ago

I too will contact everyone that you listed Rick, plus horse friends in San Antonio....I thought that this disgusting type of sideshow crap had died out in the 50's and 60's - Guess Not! As a breeder of mules I am sickened by this.

Ahmed Amer 5 years ago

awful :(

Mary R 5 years ago

This made me cry to watch the white mule jump and then emerge coughing and shaking her head from injestion of water. How can this guy think that the mules like this??? I plan to write to Bandera county authorities and ask them to stop this. I just wonder what will happen to the mules when they are not bringing in an income for this sick San Antonio animal abuser (I don't even think he deserves to be called a cowboy).

Tony 5 years ago

Some one needs to contact the Houston ASPCA!! this is horable,, animal cruilty,, As a long ear lover myself this makes me angery!!!

Caroline Johnson 5 years ago

Hi there, this was published in the UK press in August 2010 as a result I started a facebook page "Stop Aqua Mules @ Lightning Ranch, Texas, USA" on this page you will find some details of who to contact - please do as the more that do it we may be able to get this shut down and ideally have the animals removed and placed in a sanctuary.

The details are:

Please either contact the American SPCA directly by:

Or if you want to email:

Or contact the owner of this facility directly by visiting their website:

Or emailing directly:

irtkris profile image

irtkris 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

Thank you for posting this. I will add it to my list of abuses that I am speaking out against.

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 5 years ago from England Author

irtkris, thanks for your support. What over abuses do you speak against?

irtkris profile image

irtkris 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

As many as I can. search Animal Rant and see what I have so far.

elisse owens 4 years ago

I don't think the animal would even go near the ramp if he really didn't want to. I work with horses I would know that if a horse don't want to do something THEY WONT. I think this is perfectly fine that animal does not look hurt. IF you guys are really concerned read the book a girl and five brave horses.

natures47friend profile image

natures47friend 4 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

OMG....humans are so cruel to make a little money!

I think it would be fun to have humans who fear water and can't swim jump off and entertain either other humans or an enormous group of animals. lol (Being silly here...of course that would not happen cos it would be insanely cruel and unjust. People are capable of thought and have feelings. Well, animals do feel to....scaring mules...what if one was scared into heart failure and drowned...would the show go on and people get a refund!

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 4 years ago from England Author

What goes through the mind of Bill Rivers is difficult to see. There's obviously very little in his head, or his heart, to force the mules to do what they do.

nee 4 years ago

It is very clear the mule is afraid and you clearly hear the threatning whip . He is this is very wrong.

potato 4 years ago

What's the big deal? Why don't we take it even further and start fining people who have golden retrievers fetch tennis balls out of a lake? I mean, the animal obviously is used to it and couldn't care less. lighten up

Smokeysbestfriend 4 years ago

Well I am going to start by pointing out that I am sorry to say but the mule is not being forced by any means! He could have backed himself all the way back down had he wanted to. If the mule was so terrified of leaping off this pier he would have never went back up after the first time. Who are we to say they are afraid and it is cruel when they are completely submerged under water....if it was so terrifying these equines would have to be at the very minimum led up the pier. Instead, these mules walked right up without hesitation until he reached the top. I am sure the mules have done this stunt several times and again, if they hated it that much they would not go up in the first place. IT IS REALLY HARD TO FORCE AN ANIMAL WHICH DOUBLES A HUMAN IN SIZE TO DO SOMETHING WHICH THEY ARE UNWILLING TO DO!

You so called "animal lovers" are more extremist than anything or just pretend to know animals when you really have no clue about anything further than snuggling with your dog on the couch.

Please find a new hobby :)

Allybarb 4 years ago

What a bunch of low-life jerks forcing a defenseless mule to jump-fall-into a pool of water! We don't see the "training" that went into getting this poor animal up the ramp. Say---electric shock cattle prods--would be my guess. I saw this "sick act" at the Steel Pier as a kid AND I saw a guy with a "shiny prod" help the horse "fall" off the platform. Not a pretty sight--and I am not an "animal rights extremist". I have had horses for over 50 years. Again--please send these clowns packing and take those mules to a rescue!

anon 4 years ago

Hi. I have aboslutely no idea what this article is saying, that these animals are "forced" or put through "psychological trauma". This is completely false. They're trained animals, who learn by simply walking into a pool of water, then the height is slowly increased. At one point, because of these false accusations being made, they tested the differences in the mules before and after the jump. Their heart rate had not increased, nor anything else. There is absolutely no cattle prods being used. I understand that is shocking and some people are amazed, and not always in a good way, but these animals are not being put through hell and back like this article makes it seem. If they really didn't want to, or were honestly terrified, they would have absolutely no issue removing themselves from the situation.

mulemamma 3 years ago

I've owned horses and mules for many years. Personally, I prefer mules. This high diving show doesn't bother me at all because if a mule doesn't want to do something there is no way you can make him do it. Mules are more intelligent than horses and trying to beat one into submission will only backfire. These performing mules do so because they trusted the handler that taught them to dive and I'm certain that they love diving!

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