OTTB Showcase: Mighty Military (a.k.a. “Ghost”)
You've got to love a hard-knockin', always tryin' horse. Mighty Military was and is that kind of horse, both on and off the track.
Trained by well-known trainer Bob Holthus, Mighty Military was at the top of his game at age four, racing against the likes of Kitten's Joy, Senor Swinger, Old Forester, and others in graded stakes competition, and raced on competitively at five and six years of age.
Nicknamed Ghost, the gritty gray gelding retired in the fall of 2007 to Meadowlake Farm in Kentucky and was owned by famed photographer Doug Prather.
“I was told that Ghost could be a handful on the track, running off in the morning and sometimes being difficult to rate in a race,” said current owner Brooke Schafer. “After retiring from racing, he spent the next two years relaxing in a paddock, until he was purchased by a young lady named Rachel, who began riding and jumping him and recognized his potential as a jumper.”
In 2009 Ghost went to Brooke's mother, Lindsay Hunter, at her Central Kentucky-based Silverstone Farm and, soon after, was sold as a jumper and moved to Ohio. Six months later, however, he was back at Silverstone showing as a hunter/jumper and being used as a lesson horse.
“In 2012, I was looking for a new eventing prospect that I could bring down to Benton, Louisiana and compete in the Area V [Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas] eventing competitions,” said Brooke. “My mom suggested I take Ghost with me. Although I'd ridden him several times, Ghost and I had never quite seen eye to eye.”
26-year-old Brooke, who is in the process of earning her Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Louisiana State University, brought Ghost down to Louisiana with her to Holly Hill Farm. It was in the pair's first lesson with Brooke's trainer, Regis Webb, that they saw the key to Ghost's more than $200,000 in earnings – his “hard knockin', always tryin'” attitude.
“Ghost made it very clear that he wanted to learn and work in my very first lesson with him,” explained Brooke. “On his first trip schooling cross country, he jumped every fence like he had done it his entire life. He's a true athlete in every sense of the word.”
This past October Brooke and Ghost competed in their first combined training event together in Weatherford, Texas at Beginner Novice. The pair did well enough to advance to Novice level competition later that month at their next competition, and finished fifth out of a substantial group of competitors.
Then, in October, Brooke noticed that Ghost had a stubborn runny nose that just wouldn't seem to clear up. Since Brooke works at Red River Equine Hospital in Benton, Louisiana when not in class, she knew that since several rounds of antibiotics hadn't cleared up the issue, it was time for a more invasive examination.
“The team at Red River identified that Ghost had an infection in his sinus cavity caused by two bad molars,” explained Brooke. “At the end of November he underwent surgery to have those teeth removed and hopefully clear the infection.”
It's been three months since Ghosts surgery and he's back under tack and training with Brooke.
“In February I will ride him in a three day clinic with [Olympian] Buck Davidson,” said Brooke.
If all goes according to plan, Brook and Ghost's first 2013 competition will be in March at the Novice level and, if all goes well, they will move up to Training level in April.
“Ghost has given me confidence out on the cross country course that I hold second to none,” said Brooke. “I have a bond with him that's like no other I've ever had with a horse. I trust him with my life every day and I hope we are able to go far together in the coming years.”
Name: Mighty Military (a.k.a. “Ghost”)
Born: February 16, 2001
Dam: The Only Way To Go
Sale History: none
Race Record: 32-4-3-6; 2nd in the Tri-State Handicap; 3rd in the Turfway Park Fall Handicap-G3
Race Earnings: $207,525
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz (Jenlroytz@gmail.com) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns two retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is just starting back under saddle to find his forte as a riding horse, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), who is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.