Our Trainers



Tommy has ridden horses virtually all his life and credits his trainer father, also named Tommy, with much of his early learning about horsemanship. Tommy grew up under his father’s tutelage training Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, mules, walking horses and Arabians. “My father had a tremendous gift with horses, and I was lucky to be able to learn from him. He taught me to use patience and care, never to rush with a horse. Some people prefer to forget where they come from – I think about it every day,” says Tommy.

In 1985, Tommy left the family training business to strike out training Arabians for Deep Meadow Farm in Waynesboro, VA. Arabians quickly became the center for the next 20 plus years of Garland’s show career which has included a multitude of national U.S., Brazilian and Canadian titles in Western Pleasure and Hunter Pleasure with Arabians and Half-Arabians. Not only has he achieved personal success but his amateurs, youth and adult alike, have acquired many National titles.

In 1988, Tommy met his wife, Dawn, at a horse show. Introduced by a mutual   acquaintance, the young couple was married three months later. “Dawn’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Tommy. After a long string of successes earning National honors for client horses, as well of those of Dolorosa Arabians of North Carolina and later horses from Double Diamond Ranch of Texas, Tommy was ready to opeuntitled 32n the doors training in his own facility. In 2000, he and Dawn opened the Garlands Training Facility on 30 acres in Powhatan, Virginia, just 20 minutes outside of Richmond.

As in the past, a string of show ring successes followed and today over 40 horses are in training at the facility. Tommy was voted the Western Pleasure Trainer of the Year in 2002 by the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association and has received multiple nominations by his peers for Hunter Pleasure and Western Pleasure Trainer of the Year.

He and his wife Dawn reside in Powhatan, Virginia and have three children: Samantha, TBird (Tommy Jr.) and Katie.


Katie Garland has grown up with and worked with horses her entire life so it was no surprise when she decided to officially join her highly regarded horseman & Dad, Tommy in the family training business.

Find out more about this energetic, talented and passionate horsewoman in this interview.

Q:   Is there pressure entering the family business and following in your grandfather and famous Dad’s footsteps:
Katie:  My Dad doesn’t put any pressure on me, I put the pressure on me.   My Dad has been successful in and out of the show arena and I want to make my own way and create my own successes.   I don’t want people to think I’m doing this because I’m Tommy Garland’s daughter, I’m doing this because it’s my passion.    I don’t want my success to be dependent on being his daughter.   I have learned so much from my Dad, but I’m my own person and I create my own successes.

Q:   When did you know you wanted to be a trainer?

Katie:   I always knew that’s what I wanted to do.   My Dad tried to talk me out of it at times because it’s truly hard work and requires incredible discipline, commitment and time.   In the end he knew this is what I am passionate about.  It’s what I’m meant to do and he and my Mom are incredibly supportive. There are long hours, days and sometimes weeks away from home during show season especially and my family is always cheering me on….I am a lucky girl to have such an amazing family!

Q:   Professionally, which horsemen/women inspire you?  Katie and Mounfire Connection
Katie:  There are a couple of people who I really look up to and their training methods inspire me:   Gene LaCroix is such a great man & horseman.   He is a true, authentic horseman and you can apply his techniques to every discipline.   I rode with Joel Kiesener a few days last summer(2012) and he’s a great guy and I like the way his horses look and go.  They’re consistent.    In my last years of showing as a youth, Vicky Humphrey  & Jessica Clinton really influenced me.  Vicky really took me under her wing and we ended up leasing a couple of horses from her and I was able to show them at youth.  And of course, my Dad.     He is a gifted horseman and I have learned so much from watching him all these years and…he learned what he knew from watching his Dad and I love that we have that in common.

Q:   Do you have a training philosophy or style?
Katie:   I’ve learned so much from my Dad over the years so I would say my training style is similar to his BUT I’ve discovered my own ways of doing things as well over the years.    I’m fortunate to have ridden and studied with some really great horsemen & women:   Gene LaCroix, Vicky Humphrey, and Joel Kiesner to name a few.   It all begins with having a solid relationship, built on trust with your horse.

Q:    What do you do in you free time, when you’re not training:
Katie:   I have no free time!  :)  This job requires a lot of time & hard work, especially when you’re first starting out.     Nothing’s been given to me on a silver platter, it takes lots of hard work and it’s a true commitment, especially from a time perspective and you know what?   I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Q:   Who inspires you and keeps you motivated, on a personal level?

Katie:   My Dad..he has taught me so much and I am so proud of all that he has done and accomplished.   My Mom is also a huge inspiration and…she keeps all of us in line when she gives us ‘the look’!  :)

Q:   What is your funniest moment on horseback?Katie and ROL Divine Style
Katie:  When I was 8 years old, I was riding in the arena with my Dad for the very first time and…I got bucked off!   After I hit the dirt, I was crying and Dad heard me and he raced over to me and said:   “You’ve gotta get up, you’ve gotta get up!!!”     There was nothing he could say that was going to get me off the ground at that moment…I wanted to lay there and cry and so I did!  We still laugh about that!

Q:   What are your professional goals?
Katie:  This year I want to continue being successful in the show arena.       In addition to our Western & Hunter Pleasure horses, I have always want to have more English horses in the barn in training and that is happening!    I really enjoy riding Western & Hunt and I’ve been successful in those disciplines but English is my passion and first love.    I could ride English horses all day!”

Q:  In your 2012 US National Ride in the Purebred English Futurity, you had a smile on your face from the second you entered the show arena until you went Reserve Champion with “ROL Divine Style” (aka Duke).     What was behind the smile?

Katie:   I was so happy to be there and that was what I always wanted to do.   I’ve always wanted to show English and “Duke” was a horse I trained completely by  myself.    From the second Duke arrived, he was my responsibility from start to finish.     (My Dad often jokes that he was lucky if I would let him ride Duke at all…ever and it’s true.  He got to ride him twice!)   It was just so much fun!   I got to go in and ride my ride and there was absolutely no pressure.      After they announced my name, it was all a blur.   It was so exciting and it’s something I’m never going to forget!

Q:   How can we get more kids/youth involved in training in our industry?
Katie:  Training is hard work and most people don’t want to commit to that.   They do it for awhile and think it’s too hard and you know what?   It IS hard but I’m not afraid of hard work because I know the results will more than make up for it in the end.   This isn’t just a job…it’s a way of life and a true commitment.

Q:  Any chance you’ll be doing clinics  with your Dad?
Katie:  There really aren’t any plans to do that at this time.   I am always happy to help him at his clinics but that’s kind of his thing.  I have a lot on my plate training and I want to continue focusing on that.Katie and Duke @ Scottsdale