No equestrian is immune to the occasional bout of the bad rounds. Fortunately for most riders, the bad days at the office stay at the office, and life goes on.
This is most certainly not the case for rider Bernhard Maier, who has been slapped with a three month competition ban by Austria’s equestrian federation for “disgracing the sport” during this round on the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Paddys Darco in the Wiener Neustadt CSI1* last weekend. Think that’s an overly harsh reaction to a lapse in performance? You be the judge:
The video quickly went viral and is approaching 2 million views since it was uploaded earlier this week, as most observers joined the chorus of criticism for Maier while singing the praises of the horse. It’s pretty clear from the demolition of the opening oxer they were not on the same page, but Maier carried on for two painful, fault-filled minutes before merciful elimination after a second refusal in which the horse appears to seriously consider bolting the arena altogether. You can even hear audible hisses from the crowd after Maier elects to continue after the first refusal.
Perhaps the ground jury could have stepped in and put an end to this mess before technical elimination. Working through mistakes is a critical component of competition, but there’s a clear line between “working through it” and “forcing it through”.