California Riding Magazine • December, 2009

Katie Neglia:
Brook Town Training
Young trainer parlays a gift for ponies into a promising hunter/jumper endeavor.

Young professional Katie Neglia is celebrating her first year of success as a hunter/jumper trainer with her own Brook Town Training, based at Faubus Farms in San Diego County’s Fallbrook. Although the business is evenly split between pony and horse riders, Neglia credits the ponies with revealing her calling.

“My goal was simply to get one pony, train it and re-sell it,” says the 24-year-old. That was seven years ago and since then she has proven her knack for selecting and developing talented, safe ponies. “I got my first ‘pony project’ when I was 17 and I loved the process of bringing him along,” she recounts. As Neglia took on students, she found equal joy in the process of seeing them progress as riders and horsemen.

Katie Neglia and one of Brook Town’s lesson ponies, Ocean Splash.
Photo: Morgan Hartmann

Ponies became a nice niche. “A good pony has to be more than talented,” Neglia asserts. “They have to be safe for the kids to ride, forgiving of their rider’s mistakes and quiet.” Picking ponies with the right temperament is the first step, followed by training them toward bomb-proof-ness next. Most ponies in the Brook Town program are ridden exclusively by Neglia through their early education until “they are schooled up and safe for the kids to get on,” she explains.

Neglia has a fondness for Welsh ponies, but has found gems in other types and from sources ranging from breeders to backyards. The majority of Brook Town’s students are beginners and their skills and showing experience are growing along with Neglia’s business. The next phase of growth is under way now as she welcomes those with their own horses who may already be competing or are ready to hit the circuit.

Maddy Dunham and her pony, Ruby.
Photo: Morgan Hartmann

The hotly contested national pony and show circuit is an eventual goal, but never at the expense of accommodating students with more modest competitive goals and budgets. “I want to have a group that wants to show, but I don’t want to be limited just to that,” she explains. “There always has to be a place where people can get good horsemanship basics whether they want to show or not.” Neglia typically has a few for-sale ponies, and her long-term goals include breeding and developing young ponies.

In emphasizing good riding basics, Neglia carries on the traditions of her two main trainers as a junior and a young amateur. She started riding with dressage-oriented trainer Jill Beltran. “Jill gave me great basics,” Neglia reports. “She helped me become a confident, capable rider and instilled in me the importance of solid dressage basics. Beltran also helped her start the talented jumper Pik’s Kiara, a granddaughter of the famous Pik Bube.

Candice, Katie, Maddy, Brooke and Katie.
Photo: Morgan Hartmann

Joe Lombardo helped Neglia polish her talent for the show ring. “He has a lot of experience with the really nice horses, and he shared so much of his knowledge.” He pushed her, too, which she appreciates. “He gave me that extra push to become a better, braver rider and a more knowledgeable horse person.”

Although she is thriving as a professional, Neglia retains her perpetual student mentality. “Just because you are a pro, I don’t think that means your education should stop.” She calls Lombardo and a few other trainers when in need of a new angle on a training issue with her horses, ponies and riders.

Neglia was happy to find Faubus Farms on a friend’s recommendation. The sporthorse training and boarding facility offers all the needed amenities, plus reasonable rates and room to grow. Born and raised in Fallbrook, Neglia christened her business Brook Town after the city’s nickname.

We love our ponies!
Photo: Morgan Hartmann

For her pony riders in particular, Neglia puts a big emphasis on having fun. “Basically any excuse to get everyone together, we do it.” This year’s Halloween barn party included relay races that required kids to tack up their mounts swiftly but correctly. “We do a lot of educational games, where kids are learning and having fun at the same time.”

“Every kid needs something to look forward to,” Neglia observes. “A place to go after school or on the weekends, a place where they have friends, a place with good influences and a place they will learn from.” With that as a big part of Brook Town Training’s raison d’etre, it’s clear Neglia is producing more than great ponies.

For more information on Katie Neglia and Brook Town Training, visit www.brooktownponies.com.