This is a rough, short and sweet version of how we do ours.
Well we start them on the pattern in the early Spring of their 4 yr old year, at the end of their 4yr old year they are consistently loping the pattern usually. Depending on the horse itself some might be going a faster lope if they are mentally mature enough to handle that much. When starting them we work the barrels at least 4-5 days a week (time varies on how well they are working), we also do a lot of different drills and exercises off the pattern as well. We also try and haul them to some of the races and exhibition them to get them used to the surroundings and environment.
In the spring of their 5yr old year we start packing them and letting them cruise the pattern (a fast lope really) and through the year letting them just go their own pace and not pushing them at all. They usually get faster at their own pace when they feel they are ready. We still do a lot of slow work on the pattern at home and do a lot of drills. In the fall we usually cruise them through to see where there weak spots are and where they are falling apart and go back and work on those areas.
Then their 6 yr old year we start pushing them (if they are ready) and not full out. We push them but only to what they can physically and mentally handle. And by the end of their 6yr old year they are usually handling the pressure and speed well so are running good.
Their 7 yr old year is when we push start pushing and asking of them. They should be pretty well matured and seasoned on the pattern to where they know they have a job to do.
But our training program consists of a lot of slow steady work, we don't push our horses until they can handle it. If they are falling apart mentally (getting gate issues, rushing the barrels, shouldering, ect) they are not ready or need to really be backed off. And we try to avoid the nasty habits or gate problems and don't let them get sour or fire breathing dragons.
But before they even get close to the pattern they need to be broke and have a solid foundation. I want my horses to do the following and do it well before they even set foot close to the pattern...
Flexing (neck and poll)
Control their shoulders/hips and move them when and where I want
Light to leg
Soft and Supple from mouth to tail
Collection at all 3 gaits
Keeping the shoulder up on their own
Being able to control and collect themselves at all 3 gaits while doing circles, and going around objects
Solid, Smooth, Snappy stops
Light to my seat
And I am sure I am leaving a few details out, but you get the point I want them broke with a solid foundation. Because without a solid foundation your going to find your self fixing many things and it is going to take you way longer to fix the simplest things.
So ya like I said short and sweet........what is your training program like?