Question: Are training methods today similar
to what's been done in the past?
Answer: Training methods are cyclical, like most
things in life, but basic dressage training has
been around forever. From what Ive read,
yes, things have pretty much remained the same.
You will find great variances in todays
training methods, based on the trainers
style and the breed of horse. Certain breeds will
also start under saddle much earlier than others.
For example, race horses (thoroughbreds) are started
in their second year. You shouldnt start
an Arabian so early (although some people do)
because it will affect bone/muscle/skeletal development.
Thoroughbreds mature earlier. You can drive a
young horse (2 year old) though. Pulling a cart
doesnt seem to affect development as much.
Check out the Resources
link for books on training.
Dressage training (using cues) has been around
forever (since Xenophon's The Art of Horsemanship).