Benson "Ben" Bennett Martin Jr., 68, of Kennett Square, a pioneer in equine sports medicine, died Wednesday, March 18, of renal failure at Chester County Hospital.
Dr. Martin's entire 34-year career was spent at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, the large-animal hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).
Early in his career, he specialized in performing surgery on horses; in the last two decades, however, he perfected and carried out a multifaceted performance and lameness evaluation on equines, the powerful athletes of the show ring and the racing world.
When the Pennsylvania Racing Commission approved the Jeffords High Speed Treadmill for use by vets in the early 1990s, Dr. Martin was among the first to use it as a diagnostic tool.
The device allowed clinicians to measure blood gases, respiration, and electrical heart activity, and to look for problems with bones and muscles - as the horse ran on the treadmill.
"If a race or show horse was not performing well, he was in charge of orchestrating that work," said Ginny Reef, New Bolton's chief of sports medicine and imaging, and Dr. Martin's life partner. "He put all the pieces together to try and return the animal to its previous performance level."
As New Bolton's director of the Jeffords High Speed Treadmill Facility and the Equine Performance Clinic, he was the leading clinician for equine athletes.
But another major component of his work was the 20 years he spent on Penn Vet's admissions committee. He not only helped select the facility's students but also followed their later progress.
"He mentored them," Reef said. "He was always available for them to ask questions about anything. He was approachable, not judgmental."
Born in Greenwich, Conn., to Benson Bennett Martin and Janeth Nancy Martin, he graduated from Fairfield Prep and enlisted in the Navy. He was deployed to Vietnam.
He graduated from the University of Connecticut, and in 1980 was awarded his veterinary medical degree from Penn Vet. Once he completed an internship and a large-animal surgery residency, Dr. Martin became board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
After a distinguished career as a faculty member and clinician at New Bolton Center, he retired as an associate professor in July 2014 to travel and relax.
Dr. Martin was the consummate horseman, having grown up in the business. He worked in thoroughbred racing for his uncle, Hall of Fame trainer James W. Maloney. As a young man, Dr. Martin worked at Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky., as well as in the show-horse world.
Dr. Martin traveled widely but chose the north shore of Kauai and Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, as his second home. He sailed, hiked, kayaked, made island friends, and absorbed the culture. He was a prolific reader.
Dr. Martin was "an awesome friend" to many and was devoted to his siblings.
Besides his life partner of 35 years, he is survived by brothers Bruce and Robert Martin; sisters Eve and Laurie Martin; and three nephews and a niece. A third sister, Anne Miserocchi, died earlier.
A celebration of Dr. Martin's life will be at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31, at Allam House, New Bolton Center. Burial is private.
Contributions for a student scholarship at Penn Vet may be made in his memory. Checks should be payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center Development Office, 382 W. Street Rd., Kennett Square, Pa. 19348.