Garth Vader starts new career at Penn School of Veterinary Medicine


Donated stallion will be used for hands-on training for equine veterinary students.

Standardbred stallion Garth Vader was recently donated to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, 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.

A new career: Garth Vader, a 10-year-old stallion, has been donated to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Garth was donated to Penn Vet by Linda Hurtgen and Nandi Farms. Hurtgen's late husband, Dr. John P. Hurtgen, was a veterinarian and faculty member at Penn Vet before going into private practice. A reproductive specialist, he was known as a leader in bringing equine embryo transfer to the industry.

Steve Moore, who managed the farm for seven years before it was sold, says, "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 adds that Dr. 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, says Tamara Dobbie, DVM, who is board-certified in theriogenology. "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 says, 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 on hand to assist third-year veterinary students who spend time on the New Bolton Center campus during their concentrated Large Animal Block. Dobbie says the horse will also be a wonderful teacher for fourth-year students concentrating on equine medicine when they learn about handling stallions, collecting 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 2 to 5. 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 handsome 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," Dobbie says. "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."

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