Designing a training schedule (part 1)

I’m finally understanding how this training schedule is going to come together. These next few posts will pull together the training ideas I’ve been exposed too but haven’t quite mastered in a way that I think finally makes sense to my brain.

When it comes to activities/exercises there are several factors to take into consideration:

  • How much does the activity allow the horse to say No? Not all activities can provide 100% free will to the horse, but as you work through the exercises, see if you can provide your horse some options, some choices. For more detaill see Empowered Horses by Imke Spilker and Gallop to Freedom by Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon
    • allow the horse to come into the game on their own
    • allow the horse to leave or stop the activity
    • work the horse in an area large enough they can leave
    • increase the reward when your horse participates
    • be aware of the amount of pressure you use – lighten up and lighten up again
    • sandwich must-do tasks between free will activities
    • always begin and end on an activity your horse enjoys
    • observe your horse carefully, give them the benefit of the doubt, trust their instinct.
  • How can you increase buy-in for your horse? Buy-in, is the amount of interest or motivation your horse has when doing the activity. If the buy-in is low, how can you increase it? An easy way to do this is through clicker training which initially provides food as a motivation.
    • Food as a reward through Clicker Training is a natural.
    • Petting and scratching favorite places
    • Verbal praise
    • Letting the horse have choice
    • Letting the horse do a favorite activity
    • Rewarding the horse with jackpots (lots of treats) for harder tasks
    • Rewarding the horse by releasing him immediately from all work after a hard task is accomplished
    • Two ways I reward: when the horse comes to me, I feed breakfast. When we end our session he gets his remaining 2 flakes of alfalfa. If you don’t control feed time, consider jackpot treats at the beginning and end of sessions.
  • Is the activity low or high energy? The idea of using the rhythm of low and high energy throughout your workout session is addressed in Klaus Hempfling’s, What Horses Reveal.
    • If your horse is laid back (“lazy”), what excites him?
    • If your horse is easily excited, what calms him? or focuses his energy?
    • What games interest him the most? the least?
    • When excited, how long can your horse maintain focus?
    • What bores your horse and how does he show lose of interest?
    • Remember, once a horse has learned something don’t practice it to infinity, move on and add in more variety and challenge. But it’s a balance because you don’t want to overface him with too much. Let your horse guide you.


These type of low or high activities in your overall work need to be determined by your horse’s personality, physical abilities, desires, training level, and goals. They can be approached through the idea of Liberty Dressage or traditional means.


  • Masterson Method
  • Carrot Stretches
  • The Bow
  • The Backstretch
  • Core Exercises
  • Hoof on the Platform
  • Leg horizontal on platform or touching target (Jambette)
  • In-hand, inside hind leg under the center of weight
  • Companionship Walking


  • Lifting the Leg to touch a Target
  • Alternating Leg Lifts
  • Spanish Walk
  • Catching the Tiger
  • Caveletti
  • Up and Down Hills
  • Over low lying pole-hop-jump
  • Companionship Trotting-cantering
  • Transitions


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1 Response to Designing a training schedule (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Implementing a training schedule (part 3) | Horse Ideology

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