‘Profuse apologies’ of farrier whose inappropriate behaviour ‘brought shame on’ his profession

  • A farrier who “brought shame on the reputation” of his profession with his behaviour towards men and women has “extended profuse apologies” to those he offended.

    The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) disciplinary committee found that Mark Nathan Caldwell made offensive remarks including offering to inspect females’ genitalia at presentations in the US and asking male volunteers to raise their shirts and show their bodies, commenting on their build.

    Dr Caldwell, a fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and former member of the England farriery team, who holds a doctorate in equine veterinary science, said: “I fully accept the findings of the disciplinary committee of the Farriers Registration Council and extend my profuse apologies to those offended by some of the content of my presentations and other remarks that were made by me – and also for any offence to my fellow practitioners.”

    Dr Caldwell appeared before the committee to answer a number of charges.

    The committee found that in October 2019, during a presentation he gave at a farriery clinic in North Carolina, Dr Caldwell “made a comment to the effect that you had wanted to be a gynaecologist, and/or that if any women in the audience would like you to inspect their genitalia, you would oblige them”. It was found that he “made comments to the effect that the early hours of the morning were a good time for a man to ask a woman to come home with him, as she would be more willing to take off her clothes as she was so tired of wearing high heels”, and that he asked for a female volunteer, who he asked to walk around the room “and encouraged members of the audience to ‘check her out’”, and/or that he ran at the volunteer so she ran away, “at which point you commented to the effect that women often ran away from you and/or that you wished she had not run away”.

    The committee found he asked women in the audience to stand and walk round, making comments about women wearing heels to make their legs and “backsides” more attractive to men, and put up a slide of a stripper or pole dancer on a pole.

    A charge of commenting that the stripper or dancer was his standard for his apprentices, or “words to that effect”, was not proved, but the committee found he asked two male volunteers to raise their shirts to show their bodies, and commented on their respective builds, and asked a male volunteer to lie on the floor, and when he did so, put a foot on his stomach. It was also found that he asked for a male volunteer from the audience to come to the stage, “where you continuously kicked apart his legs and feet”.

    In charges relating to a presentation at a farrier clinic in Kansas in August 2017, the committee found he used offensive language and/or swear words, commented to the effect that “if any women in the audience would like you to inspect their genitalia, you would oblige them” and asked a female volunteer from the audience to put herself in a “push up” or “all fours” position on the floor, and “commented with a sexual innuendo when she did so”.

    Dr Caldwell said: “It has never been my intention to shock or offend but I fully recognise that my references were inappropriate and detracted from my sole aim of educating and informing underpinned by sound scientific theory. I have, of course, changed the content and approach of my lectures and talks to reflect the great concern that has been expressed.

    “Throughout my +40-year career, I have endeavoured to uphold the highest standards both as a practitioner and as a farriery educator and I would never wish to bring into disrepute a profession it has been my privilege to serve and which, I hope, I have been able to positively support.

    “All of us in this profession have a duty to encourage and mentor the next generation of farriers and I will continue to work hard to ensure that we are inclusive of all.  I am very grateful to those who have continued to show their support for my work and efforts, and they can be sure that I will continue — with vigour, determination but also with humility.”

    The committee found Dr Caldwell’s conduct was “inappropriate and/or offensive and/or unprofessional”, and that he was guilty of serious misconduct in a professional respect.

    The committee considered that Caldwell, a highly experienced and internationally renowned farrier, was in a position of responsibility at the clinics, and would have been seen as an “informed role model”.

    “The committee considered that his conduct was likely to have contributed to a less inclusive environment in the farriers’ community for women,” an FRC spokesman said.

    “The committee considered that the respondent was a role model for other farriers as well as being seen as representing the profession by other professionals.  His conduct was likely to tarnish his reputation, and the reputation of the profession.”

    The spokesman added that Caldwell was given feedback in 2017 and “had an opportunity to reflect on and amend his conduct, but failed to do so”.

    “The committee noted that the respondent admitted at the outset of the hearing that some aspects of the allegation were factually accurate and in poor taste but denied that they crossed the threshold to being unprofessional, inappropriate or offensive,” he said.

    “It further noted that during the course of the hearing, the respondent accepted that most of the charges were factually correct and that some aspects of his behaviour had been inappropriate. He denied that his behaviour was unprofessional.

    “The committee took into account that the respondent had offered an apology to the complainants and told the committee he has since amended the content of his presentations.  It noted the many testimonials submitted by his counsel which attested to his good character and leadership in the profession.

    “The committee considered that the respondent’s insight into his misconduct has developed somewhat over the course of this investigation and the hearing. It came to this conclusion having heard the respondent accepting during cross-examination that aspects of his conduct were inappropriate. However, the respondent maintained that his conduct was not unprofessional and disputed that much of it was offensive. The committee therefore considers that his insight remains incomplete.”

    The committee found a short suspension was needed to “communicate to the profession and the wider public that such behaviour is entirely inappropriate in a professional setting”.

    It directed that Caldwell’s registration be suspended for two months, during which he will “have an opportunity to reflect on his misconduct and its implications for the reputation of the farriery profession both nationally and internationally”.

    FRC chair Tom Smith said: “The conduct displayed by Dr Caldwell was abusive towards both men and women, and has the potential to cause great damage to the inclusivity that the farriery profession continually works hard to foster. Dr Caldwell’s conduct brought shame on the reputation of British farriery; his seniority, holding the highest qualifications in the profession, and international renown should have caused him to behave as a role model, and enhance the reputation of the profession rather than tarnishing it on, quite literally, the world stage.

    “Dr Caldwell’s conduct brought about the issue of a global statement with regard to employees and participants being free from harassment at education, training and working events related to the practise of farriery. The statement was endorsed by many farriery bodies globally, and by the Farriers Registration Council in Great Britain.

    “Together with those responsible for recruiting and training the farriers of tomorrow – approved training farriers and college training providers – we shall ensure that abusive behaviours of the kind exhibited in this case do not deter anyone, female or male, from pursuing a career in farriery; this decision proves that those who do behave in such a way shall be held to account.”

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