But for the 5 million who live in the autocratic Central Asian nation, the race, honoring the homegrown Akhal-Teke horse breed, went off without a hitch.
That's because government officials have been spending every waking hour since their leader took a tumble scrubbing any mention of the incident from the local press, and even going so far as to shut down access to social media sites and slow down the entire Internet in order to prevent the video from being seen.
Berdymukhamedov has spent the past seven years in office cultivating a cult of personality bequeathed to him by the country's previous ruler, the similarly "eccentric" Saparmurat Niyazov.
Reuters reports that local media outlets have shown the man they call The Patron flying jets, driving tanks, and even removing a person's tumor.
The AP says it spoke with the man who recorded the footage of Berdymukhamedov's blunder, and he claims the uninjured president returned to the scene of the fall some 30 minutes later to collect his prize: $11 million.
The money, according to Berdymukhamedov, will be used to advance local horse breeding.
[H/T: The Daily Dot]