Olympic show jumper Ben Maher has received criticism following an incident at the Horse of the Year Show, CSI3* Birmingham, on October 10th, and rumours have been swirling that the FEI issued a warning over his conduct.
The FEI has, however, released a statement in order to dispel these rumours, in which it is made clear that Maher was not reprimanded nor punished when his horse, Wings Sublieme, flipped over backwards after refusing a jump.
In the clip below, posted on YouTube by a spectator (at the 38-second mark), the horse refuses a jump and Maher turns him toward a jump steward. The horse then backs up quickly, flips backward and falls down.
Following the incident, Maher met with FEI officials, but according to the FEI, due to a “procedural error,” this meeting can’t be considered as an official warning, and Maher was not informed that he was being reprimanded.
The FEI’s statement sought to clarify the matter: “The FEI Secretary General has now investigated the incident concerning Ben Maher at the CSI3* Birmingham (GBR), which was addressed by officials at the time. He has clearly established that no reprimand, no warning nor any other sanction has been imposed on Ben Maher. On behalf of the FEI he apologises for the inconvenience an earlier statement from FEI Headquarters might have caused for the athlete and his entourage.”
On his Facebook page, Maher said: “The incident with my horse at HOYS last week was most unfortunate. However the allegations that my actions were reprehensible and indeed reprimanded are quite without foundation and by the FEI’s enquiry, they have been vindicated. The welfare of my horses is always paramount and I wish to make it clear that I have the fullest respect for my horses and their owners, the governing bodies of the sport and the Ground Jury members at HOYS. The FEI has issued a statement clarifying its position for which I am grateful and as always, I wish to thank all those who run the sport, my sponsors and owners for their support.”