We’ve all had a round or two we hoped no one got on tape, but this was the worst of both worlds: The worst possible round, and the most public of attention. A video posted anonymously on a newly-made page now has more than one million views, and both the rider and his nation’s equestrian federation are speaking out.
Aktuelles Video vom Wochenende!Fazit: wir plädieren auf-Lizenz Entzug für Reiter UND Richter!!!! Teilen!!!
Posted by Turnierkiebitz on Sunday, June 11, 2017
The video is of Bernhard Maier, a 56-year-old Austrian man whose FEI record goes back to 2006. In the video, he is riding Paddy’s Darco, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who has pursued the upper levels with Qatari rider Bassem Mohammed, Camilla Bruni of Italy, and Darragh Kenny of Ireland (based in US).
The horse was sold to Maier earlier this year, and the two were making their second appearance together at the Wiener Neustadt Horse Show at Lake Arena in Austria in the CSI 1* classes. It was here that the above video took place.
Maier appears to rush the horse to the base of multiple fences, lose his form, and wrap the reins around his hands to keep control. As the round progresses and things start to unravel, equestrians in the audience begin to whistle and heckle the rider following a refusal at the liverpool. Maier appears to briefly engage the spectators before attempting to finish the round.
After another refusal at a different fence, the pair are eliminated.
This morning, the Austrian Horse Sports Association released a statement indicating that as the show was an FEI sanctioned event, the President of the Ground Jury and the three event judges all made formal reports of the incident, which were handed over to the AHSA. A penal committee of that organization met and determined that,
“Bernhard Maier is excluded from participation in all horse sporting events in Austria, Germany, and abroad for a period of three months.”
According to Equo.net, a European equine news site, this is the second time this year that Maier has been suspended by his federation.
Bernhard was determined not to be silenced, however, and released a statement to eqwo.net.
The statement is peculiar and rambling, as the rider explains that the horse was purchased by two sponsors for his daughter, Johanna, and he was tuning the horse up in preparation for her.
According to Bernhard, the horse was sold to “rich people” in the U.S. who “lost more and more of the horse’s skills” and his sponsors bought the horse as a project for him and Johanna. “It is a difficult horse with which, of course, a lot of training had to be done.”
He goes on with his defense, claiming that he “finished” all the courses set before them in Arezzo, Italy, where he purchased the horse.
He also claims he was thrown off by the heckling, a concussion he received at a previous event, and a cardiac weakness which he’s had for the past six years. Moreover, he insists the real problem stems from a smear campaign being conducted by individuals who envy Maier and his daughter and their talented string.
He claims these unknown parties have been after him since he returned from his last suspension – and based off the targeted videotaping and anonymous sharing of this footage, that doesn’t seem to be far off base.
As a means of defense, Maier shared footage from a non-FEI event earlier this year where the horse was well-placed.
As for the horse’s future, Maier makes no indication that he plans to sell the horse or take a new approach in his training, stating simply he wishes he had not gone out at all that day.
We will update this story if additional information becomes available.