Is your horse making the decisions? How should you use training cycles with your horse?

Picture this: A young mother in the grocery store with three kids all under the age of six. Little hands are reaching, little voices are asking, ‘Mommy…mommy…’ and it largely goes one of two ways: kid in grocery store

#1- the mom looks frazzled…the kids are picking up everything, one won’t stop screaming for the toy he wants, another is running up and down the isles taking things off shelves….

#2- the mom looks tired….but the kids are engaged. They are asking for things but the mom is asking them questions back, ‘Can you pass me that can of tomatoes?’…..’do you see the apple sauce we usually get?’ , ‘how much is that bag of chips that you want?’

LOOK: Either example is work. One is more productive.

My husband Jesse often says that, “Horses are like kids — if you don’t keep them busy they will keep you busy.” Sometimes when they keep you busy, it will be doing thing like bucking or generally giving you a hard time. Often this is a sign that the horse is controlling the workout.Has your horse training flat lined?

In yesterdays blog I explained how I use training cycles with Jac. You might be asking, “How does this apply to me?” Well let me ask you a question — has your training flat-lined? Is your routine the same every day? Consistency is good, but we need to remember to challenge our horses both physically and mentally.

horse training chart

Does working your horse involve increasing and decreasing the intensity over time? It should.

The concept of cycles applies not only to individual workouts, but to overall training plans over weeks and months.  For example, pertaining to a weekly plan, Monday will be an easier day than Tuesday, Wednesday.  And Thursday may be the peak of the week, and Friday will be easier — similar to Monday or Tuesday. The weekend can be used as recovery time, as time needs to be allowed for the body to rest and rebuild.

On an even bigger scale, looking at a month or several months, the training should have cycles in which week one is easier than week two, three and four but then week five might head back down the scale.

A horse that is ridden several times a week, with a routine that never changes, will often become more difficult because they have reached a level of fitness and are not being challenged either physically or mentally.

Having a plan, and planning with cycles in mind, will assure you have an aim each time you work your horse.  So, even if you only ride three times a week you should use a training cycle.


  1. […] all the time. I have written several blogs on the idea (Training Cycle: Breathing, Training Cycles: Who’s making decisions?, Jac Video on Training […]

  2. […] Is your horse making the decisions? How should you use training cycles with your horse? […]

  3. Lori Tucker on May 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Is there a video of you starting Jac on lead changes? I’m interested in the particular exercises you did to prepare him for asking for the changes. Does he change easier on one side vs the other? How did you ask the first several times? How did you explain to him when he didn’t get it to go through and change?

  4. Catherine on December 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I am really enjoying this series. Thank you for the added explanation of things.
    I am only able to work/play with my horses once a week. I have a difficult time creating a plan in my mind to follow. I know which holes need work, but I have difficulty getting started. Warming up, my little mustang will often give me the stink ears. Is she bored or simply saying “no”?
    It would be so helpful to have a written outline to follow. This demo is a great way to show that.
    Keep them coming, I can’t get enough. Thank you!

  5. Terri Anderson on December 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Love this lesson! Stacy, what is the diameter of your round pen in this lesson? Mine is 80′ which might me a little large?

    • Stacy on December 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Roughly 55, maybe 60…I can’t remember if I put all the panels in or not, lol. Bigger if they are scared so they don’t hit the walls….smaller if you have to run a ton because they are lazy, lol.

  6. qhorsenut on December 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I am loving these Jac episodes!!! I have a long yearling that I can’t wait to try out these techniques this spring.

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