The director of supplements company Equifeast has faced backlash online for an article he wrote on whether magnesium has contributed to recent eventing deaths.
Malcolm Green posted his piece on Saturday (14 May), after British rider Philippa Humphreys died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall on the cross-country at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event in New Jersey, United States. It has since been removed from his website.
In his piece, titled “Is magnesium contributing to eventing deaths?”, Mr Green said he had concerns over nutritional issues, and that “I would not rest easy in my conscience if I felt I had insights which could conceivably reduce the likelihood of injuries and did not make every effort to raise awareness of them”.
He added that “Lucinda Green has asked me to write an abbreviated version for circulation to riders” – but has since admitted he did not have permission to use Lucinda’s name.
The article caused angry reactions online, with members of the public criticising the timing of its being posted.
On Tuesday (17 May) the Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain (ERA of GB) published a statement saying it had lodged complaints with British Eventing and the British Equestrian Trade Association.
It also asked for the article to be withdrawn and for Mr Green to make a public apology.
“We thought the timing was inappropriate”, association president Bruce Haskell said.
“We thought that with all the goodwill in the world and whether it was the intention of the author or not, it came across as self-promotion, promotion of a product.
“We thought the best way to handle it was to put it in the hands of the regulatory authorities.”
ERA of GB has also notified the FEI of its concerns, and raised the issue with Trading Standards.
“We’re absolutely behind any drive towards safety in the sport,” Mr Haskell said.
“We acknowledge there’s never a good time to talk about safety, but equally there’s an inappropriate time to talk about it, and that’s immediately following the tragic circumstances of this weekend.”
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In his article, Mr Green said he had contacted “some of the key administrators in the sport in the UK, America and Australia”.
He added: “I hope they will respond positively by supporting research that either proves or disproves the proposition that the excessive use of magnesium in equestrian sport is one potential contributor to accidents that may lead to injury or death of both horses and riders.”
Mr Green apologised on the Equifeast UK Facebook page, stating: “It was in no way my intention to upset anyone who has had the misfortune to be involved in an accident”.
He told H&H he thought some people had “over-reacted enormously”.
“To me it’s bizarre that people have assumed we’ve done this in order to sell more products – that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
“We’ve done this because we believe that if we get magnesium right, it will reduce the risks of all riding, not just eventing.”
Mr Green, whose background is in biology, has been working in animal nutrition since 1994, and has been looking into magnesium and its effects since 2011. He says that the element is present in grass, and many commercial feeds, without being provided by specialised supplements, and that too much can have a negative effect.
His company Equifeast uses chelated calcium in its supplements, which are available with zero or low levels of magnesium.
He wants governing bodies to support research into the effects of magnesium, and he says he has contacted relevant authorities.
“We’ve got data on more than 7,000 horses, on how much magnesium was in their diet when they came to us, and when they left as happy customers,” he said.
“It’s incredibly helpful information and I’ll share it with anyone who wants to use it properly.”