Garth Vader Starts New Career at Penn Vet

Standardbred stallion Garth Vader was recently donated to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), where he will be one of the horses-in-residence at The Georgia and Philip Hofmann Research Center for Animal Reproduction on the New Bolton Center campus in Kennett Square, Pa.

Garth was donated to Penn Vet by Linda Hurtgen and Nandi Farms. Hurtgen's late husband, John P. Hurtgen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, was a veterinarian and faculty member at Penn Vet before going into private practice. A reproductive specialist, he was known the father of modern embryo transfer.

Steve Moore, who managed the farm for seven years before it was sold, said, "This is a great situation for everyone. Garth will be a great asset to Penn Vet, and we know he's in good hands." Moore added that Hurtgen was passionate about teaching, and would have very much liked the idea of the horse undertaking a new career teaching veterinary students.

Garth was an ideal candidate to join the full-service reproduction program, said Tamara Dobbie, DVM, Dipl. ACT. "At Penn Vet, we have to be very selective about accepting animal donations. It's very expensive to keep a horse, and we have to be sure that the horse will be of benefit to our program and, at the same time, that we are able to give the horse a great quality of life." Garth, she said, has all of the characteristics for an ideal teaching stallion. "He is very quiet, calm and well-mannered. His size is not intimidating. And he has very good semen quality."

As a teaching stallion, Garth will be of great value to third-year veterinary students who spend time on the New Bolton Center campus during the concentrated Large Animal Block. Dobbie said the horse will also be a wonderful teacher for fourth-year students, concentrating on equine medicine, when they learn about handling stallions, collection of semen for breeding, and conducting breeding soundness exams. Penn Vet offers a two-day course, "Just Stallion Handling," for owners, trainers and farm workers, in which Garth will play an important role, as well.

Garth, now 10 years old, made his mark by securing wins every year that he raced, from age two to five. In his last year of racing, 2007, he set a world record for the half-mile track. In addition to being a teaching horse, the bay stallion will also be standing at stud while at New Bolton Center.

When Garth is not working, he will live in his own grass pasture. "I think that Dr. Hurtgen would have been very pleased with this arrangement," said Dobbie. "Dr. Hurtgen remained active with Penn Vet, even after he left the university. He was passionate about teaching, and would have very much liked the idea of undertaking a new career teaching vet students."

To find out about breeding to Garth Vader, contact 610/925-6364.

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