Bravery Key for Retired War Horse-Turned-Eventer Sharp Johnny

After more than 60 starts on the racetrack, Sharp Johnny has transitioned well to a second career.
After more than 60 starts on the racetrack, Sharp Johnny has transitioned well to a second career. (Courtesy Xpress Foto/Elisa Wallace)

When Elisa Wallace was looking for a new off-track Thoroughbred to bring along, Megan Sanders of Brookwood Sport Horses had the perfect horse in mind.

Sharp Johnny had raced 61 times for nearly $60,000 earnings over a five-year career. Retired after his last race in June 2017, he was looking for a second career and after watching a video clip, Wallace was hooked.

“He vetted very clean, and the vet was very impressed with his manners and demeanor,” she said. “We had to call him Sharpie because I already have a Johnny in the barn (Simply Priceless) and, well, there is only one Johnny. Michelle Chisholm – who owns my other Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) horse Reloaded - bought him for me in September 2017 to aim for the 2018 Retired Racehorse Project. In April 2018 Michelle decided she wanted to sell Sharpie, and Susan Day stepped up to purchase him for me.”

Sharp Johnny in June 2018
Sharp Johnny in June 2018 (Courtesy Aly Rattazzi/Elisa Wallace)

With another extremely successful ex-racehorse in the barn in Simply Priceless, it’d be easy to try to compare the two. But other than their heart and bravery, she says they are completely different. Though they do both have their quirks, with “Sharpie” often liking to scare people with how often he likes to roll.

“He rolls all the time,” she said. “Especially if he has new shavings, but he loves to roll so much to the point I have to tell people he is not sick or colicky, it is normal. He will also roll on a flake of hay in his paddock. He also loves his food and playing in the water. One thing he does is he will stress chew for attention. It's his thing. He's really started to come out of his shell. He was very closed off in the beginning, but now he is really engaged and tries to play with everything.”

Entered in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover in eventing and freestyle, Sharpie has taken to his new career like a duck to water. But once she started training him for skills he’d need in eventing, she found a stumbling block in just how willing he is to do what she asks.

“Sometimes he tries too hard and can hinder himself by worrying about trying too hard,” she said. “It took him a couple of [eventing] outings to figure out we weren't going to the racetrack and he's had to learn to relax. He also is super brave so show jumping has been a bit of a challenge to teach him to respect the poles, but he's getting there!”

There is still another month until the Makeover but Sharpie won’t be a stranger to the Kentucky Horse Park when he competes there in October. In May, he finished seventh in his division at May-Daze at the Park, one of a handful of United States Eventing Association events he’s attended.

While the Makeover has been Sharpie’s goal since he was purchased, his competition days won’t stop there. Wallace plans to move him up to Preliminary level in November with a long-term goal of getting him as far up the levels as he can get. But no matter what he accomplishes, Wallace gives credit to the owners that have been behind her since the beginning.

“A big thanks to my owners Michelle Chisholm and Susan Day for giving me the opportunity to have found and continue to work with Sharpie. I'm just so excited to get to work with this special horse.”

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