Yet again, the Advertising Standards Authority has told a supplements company that its advert for an equine supplement must not be published “in its current form.” Yet again, the ASA’s judgement is that the advert contained medicinal claims for unlicensed products.
This ruling centres on Equifeast and one of its products: Cool, Calm & Collected. Most of us would describe it, in colloquial terms, as a calmer and it’s one of hundreds in the market place.
For the ASA to look into a product’s claims, someone has to complain about it. I’ll stick my neck out and say that the complainant was probably another supplements manufacturer, because that’s the way it goes.
But what’s the most important aspect? Is it that a complainant disagreed with Equifeast’s claim that too much magnesium could have a negative effect on horse behaviour and that the ASA upheld this complaint, or is it that horse owners are now going to be even more confused?
We certainly have to be careful. The issue of whether products formulated to promote calmness actually work is a debate in itself. Add the element of banned substances – which every rider who competes must be aware of – and you get even more complications.
It’s right that the FEI makes sure horses can’t be competed on substances which could affect them. With calmers, it’s also the case that if a substance is effective, it’s likely to be banned, as happened with valerian – see registered, independent nutritionist Clare MacCleod’s Sept 22 blog, Calm and collected.
Substances are not banned because they are inherently harmful and used appropriately and at the correct dosage, Valerian can be useful for some horses, in some scenarios away from competitions and the preparation for them. Let’s face it, you could misuse anything, legal or not.
The line between clever marketing and advertising and that which crosses it is very fine. There are also companies who have blatantly and knowingly jumped the line, reckoning that the publicity they’ll get from a clever advert before it gets pulled will make up for the slap on the wrists afterwards.
I’m not a scientist: I leave the clever stuff to people like Clare. But putting the Equifeast issue to one side, I do know that I’m fed up with reading pseudo-science that is so daft it’s laughable.
Before you buy anything, check out the claims on everything from the way ingredients act to the way they can be absorbed. Ask for links to the research that proves them.
Check out the research. If it says a trial showed it was proved to be effective on 90 per cent of horses, ask who carried out the trial, when it was done and how many horses were included.
And if you don’t get a response, or you feel you’re being bamboozled, don’t buy it. If it sounds too good to be true, that may be the case.