The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is offering to hold an open meeting with critics to discuss a row over the organisation of the National Equine Database (NED).

In September, four new board directors were appointed to the NED, the first online “portal” for passport, pedigree and performance details of Britain’s equine population.

But two of those directors — Julia Hodkin and Corrina Duncan — have been described by critics as “inappropriate”.

Ms Hodkin runs a stud, Future Sport Horses, and Ms Duncan founded, and is an adviser to, Equine AI.

Ken Rehill, UK representative of the studbook Zangersheide, told H&H: “While I’m sure the individuals involved are very good at what they do, the two positions are inappropriate because these are people who gain income from the sales of stallion semen. They have an opportunity to benefit.”

Mr Rehill has voiced his concerns to Andrew Finding, chief executive of BEF, which owns NED.

John Shenfield, secretary of the British Hanoverian Horse Society, is disappointed no one from a studbook will sit on the NED board.

“I don’t want to knock NED — it’s a good, saleable product and I desperately want it to succeed,” he said. “But we need someone on the board who has day-to-day experience of running a studbook.”

Discussion over the appointments began on H&H’s website forum, and critics contacted the newsdesk.

One, who declined to be named, said Ms Hodkin and Ms Duncan should “surrender anything that conflicts with their NED role”, adding: “In the wider business world, you would never see this”.

But both the BEF and NED refute claims that inappropriate appointments have been made.

Mr Finding said the new directors would have no more access to sensitive data than any other member of the public.

He told H&H: “The BEF would like to meet a representative delegation of the detractors to go through the recruiting process and seek to establish how [the detractors] would like to help NED.”

For more on this, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (16 October 2008)