The riding of an Austrian showjumper in a video clip which has been viewed more than a million times online has been described as a “black day” for equestrian sport.

The Austrian national federation has banned Bernhard Maier for three months after footage of him riding Paddys Darco in the Wiener Neustadt CSI1* show (8-11 June) was widely shared online.

In the video, Bernhard is seen riding Paddys Darco, a 10-year-old Irish sport horse. The combination did not get off to a good start, demolishing the first fence, a square oxer, and the round did not improve.

With 56-year-old Bernhard seemingly trying to check the horse, the combination also had the second fence down, and both elements of the double at fence four. Fence seven also fell, as did eight – despite Bernhard’s active legs and whip into the oxer.

Paddys Darco refused at fence nine, at which point whistling and shouting can be heard from spectators. Having cleared it on the second attempt, Paddys Darco turned the wrong way and almost came to a stop at the arena fence until Bernhard managed to steer him away. A second refusal at the next jump meant elimination.

The video has been condemned online, with some commenters saying Bernhard should be banned, others praising the son of Darco he was riding.

The Austrian equestrian federation released a statement this morning (13 June) titled “Sanctions against Bernhard Maier”.



“A black day for horse sport!” it reads, adding that the footage of the “pitiable” horse shared on social media is a “shame for the sport”.

This afternoon, the federation confirmed that its arbitration tribunal has banned Bernhard from all national and international shows for three months.