January 8, 2021
2020 was a tough year—and for many, it was a year we’d like to leave in the past. 2021 will hopefully be the year that we get back to doing what we love most—spending time with our horses.
For many equestrians, getting back to competing is a top priority. After a long break, we asked how International Showjumping groom Dan Ingratta is getting organized and prepared for the 2021 show season. Dan is the head groom at Millar Brooke Farm—home of Ian Millar (a.k.a. Captain Canada), where he has spent the last 10 years traveling the world, caring for Olympic-level showjumpers. Currently, Millar Brooke Farm's focus is on getting back to horse showing, starting with the Wellington Equestrian Festival (WEF). Here are Dan's tips for getting ready for the new show year.
What are your and your barn’s goals for 2021?
My goals are to try and get back to “normal.” We had a very different spring, summer and fall. It was different, not bad. Personally, I missed my horse show family and am looking forward to see everyone again, even if it is socially distanced and masked.
As for the barn, we had a great time showing in Ontario (our home base) this summer and fall. The horse show organizers did a fantastic job. We are excited to travel again and share our home base with other competitors.
How are you preparing for 2021 both for yourself and for your horses?
2021 is going to come at us hard and fast. Everyone has been on a bit of a break and is ready to get back into the competition ring. We have been working on strength and fitness a lot, and hopefully it pays off as we move forward. I honestly think some of our horses are also ready to get back into the ring 2020 was a year—some of them thrive on it.
Image courtesy of Andree-Anne Brunet Photography.
What are some things that you work on now or at the end of last year to help set you up for the year ahead?
Generally, I like to work towards a goal. For example, if one wants to show in the Nations Cup week at WEF, you work kind of backwards to see what showing, training, farrier work, veterinary work, etc. has to be done in order for you to get to that goal. What classes do you have to do to prepare your horse, to make the team, and to make sure you have a horse for the team?
Are there any products that you always have on hand to help you with your job or set you up for success, especially when it comes to horse care?
As many know, Florida is the land of skin infections. As we bring our horses down to Wellington, we try to boost their immune systems as much as possible so that they have a good trip down, and once they arrive, they remain healthy. We use Purina Canada Horseshield as a general immune booster. Before we ship down to Wellington, we start our horses on ProtEqtor by Perfect Products. We also change from our maintenance doses of products such as Alimend by Vitalize and Biomatrix to performance doses.
To help combat skin infections, I like to use an anti-fungal shampoo such as Absorbine Fungasol Shampoo. That being said, less bathing within reason is better, but I also like to follow up with an old school vinegar rinse.
Image courtesy of Dan Ingratta's Facebook.
Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to horse care or an “rules to go by” when caring for horses?
Less is more, KISS method, and go back to the basics. Whenever there is a challenge with a horse, I go back to what I know and build from there. We have to remember that these horses are elite athletes, but they are also horses.