Training the 2 year old
The two year old year to me is the big one, without a great foundation you have nothing to build on. Their legs are their foundation, I don't ride them long or lope them a lot. To me the two year old needs to first be taught how to learn. What I mean when I say that is this, I think simply pressure and release is how a horse learns best. But even though this is a system they understand, we still need to bring along a deep belief in this system. I want a young horse to never experience the feeling of being scared and panicky. I always want them to feel there is a solution or an answer to any uncomfortable situation they might find themselves in. I think a lot of people skip this step and they try to teach horses lessons that are too advanced before they know how to learn. So before I start riding a horse they must be well trained from the ground and know if they yield to pressure there will be relief. This is what builds confidence and consistency in a horse. The two year old year is for getting a horse broke, the three year old year is for getting that horse trained (or finished). It's not good when you're trying to get a horse broke and finished at the same time, it's simply more than they can handle.
Training the 3 year old
In the three year old year, our horses know how to yield to leg and hand pressure. They lope around fairly collected, change leads, turn, and stop fairly well. The reason for this is they are simply yielding to your hands and legs. This is what we want from a two year old, but now slowly they need to put more effort into the maneuvers and do them more on their own. Notice I'm not talking about getting them broke, that was the two year old year. The three year old needs us to let them mess up, and then we help them out a little and then ask them to do most of it on their own again (finishing them). Two year olds don't have enough confidence for this approach, that's why when you get behind on your two year olds, you're flat behind.
Aged Horses and Problem Horses
The older horses need a very different training program than younger horses. Older horses have been there and done that, and they will start to show signs of bordem and knowing what they are going to do before they do it. What an older horse and problem horses need is something new to do, to make it fun again. I believe that horses really enjoy learning, they truly are athletes like football or baseball players. But, just like aged players their bodies can get tired and sore and their mind gets bored from doing the same thing over and over. So I like to limit the loping, stopping and turning them around as much as possible and give them new challenges they aren't used to doing instead. I think this keeps them positive and energetic and will actually keep more spark in their manuevers.