Whether a sick or injured horse needs emergency surgery or intensive care, or a fragile newborn foal needs life-saving neonatal care, New Bolton Center offers the best and most innovative surgical techniques and finest horse care 24/7 365 days a year. New Bolton Center, the large animal veterinary campus of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, known as Penn Vet, located on 700 acres near Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania, is a pioneer and world leader in equine research and diagnostic and surgical techniques. The veterinary school, founded in Philadelphia in 1884 and the only vet school in the U.S. that is an outgrowth of a medical school, established the New Bolton Center campus in 1952 as a teaching, research and clinical facility for large animals after the university acquired land in Chester County, and in 1964, the New Bolton Center Hospital for Large Animals opened where it treats horses and other large animals and farm animals including cattle, pigs, goats, and camelids which include camels, alpaca, and llamas. An asset to the horse racing and breeding industry, New Bolton Center conducts valuable research into medications, testing, nutrition, sports medicine therapies, reproduction, and diagnostics to preserve the integrity of the sport of horse racing and insure the health and safety of the horse.

In May 2006, New Bolton made international news when the thoroughbred race horse Barbaro was rushed there for a complicated surgery of his hind leg after suffering a devastating injury in the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. The world rooted for his recovery as they witnessed the specialized care, sophisticated life-saving equipment, surgical techniques, and intensive care facilities available at the hospital. Sadly, Barbaro developed laminitis, an extremely painful hoof disease, and was euthanized in January 2007, but New Bolton leads the way in laminitis research, and The Barbaro Fund for Excellence was established in his honor to support the care of equine patients at New Bolton and contribute to continuing laminitis research projects.

Equipped with the latest diagnostic tools on par with any human hospital, New Bolton offers the horse racing community access to one of the most comprehensive equine medical facilities available in the country that includes departments in cardiology, reproduction, research, internal medicine, ophthalmology, and sports medicine. Sports medicine specialists use sophisticated imaging equipment including X rays, ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans to evaluate, diagnose, and treat their patients. High speed treadmill assessment is used to identify problems while moving at speeds up to 45 M.P.H. Equipment can monitor a horse’s heart, lungs, upper airway, gait, and vital organs while in motion. Like human athletes, horse’s are vulnerable to injuries, and the treadmill helps veterinarians detect and treat problems when they arise.

Some horses are born with throat abnormalities that compromise their airways and breathing, and at New Bolton, veterinarians examine horses’ airways at rest or on the treadmill by using an endoscope that is placed into a horse’s nostril and down their throat. Horses only breathe through their nose, so in a race horse, any throat defect, infection, or problem can impact their speed and performance. The majority of race horse injuries and problems involve compromised breathing and or lameness.

On staff at New Bolton Center, world-renowned board-certified surgeons use cutting-edge surgical techniques and treatments for their patients. New Bolton is a pioneer in medical innovations and developed many ground breaking tools and techniques, and they were the first veterinary teaching hospital to use robotic-controlled imaging called EQUIMAGINE. One advantage of EQUIMAGINE is that it can be used on a standing horse that is sedated rather than on a horse under anesthesia which allows the radiologist to easier detect conditions like spinal cord or head injuries.

Another innovation and life-saving tool developed at New Bolton 40 years ago by Dr. Jacques Jenny is a pool recovery system. A calm recovery is essential for a successful outcome after orthopedic surgery. When waking up from anesthesia, horses may thrash while trying to get up therefore undoing whatever fracture the surgeon repaired, but the pool raft system allows horses to regain consciousness after surgery while in a six man life raft before they are moved via hoist and rail system to a recovery stall. These ground-breaking tools saved many horses’ lives.

In a study supported and funded in part by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association and the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission to improve the welfare of the horse and the integrity of horse racing, the research department at New Bolton Center, led by Dr. Mary Robinson, assistant professor of Veterinary Pharmacology and director of the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory – PETRL – recently developed a breakthrough test that detects illegal gene doping therapy in equines. The team of researchers headed by Dr. Robinson created a PCR test performed on a blood sample to detect gene doping agents that were injected into a horses’ joint. Research continues to refine their testing and develop a pre- race test for the future.

PETRL, also headed by Dr. Robinson, is the lab that tests blood and urine samples taken from race horses at the state’s six race tracks. After a horse wins a race, blood and urine are taken from the horse and sent to PETRL for testing for any illegal drugs. PETRL developed ways of identifying illegal substances found in horses’ blood and urine, and they are continuing to develop new methods of testing for new drugs. Their work acts as a deterrent to cheating, and the horse racing community and the public continue to benefit from the ongoing research and scientific discoveries at New Bolton to help maintain a fair and level playing field for horse owners, trainers, and race goers.

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