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Finding the right horse-riding instructor

Learning StylesKnowing and understanding your type of learning style is a great start to finding the right horse-riding instructor. When you find one who understands your learning style and adapts their lesson to match, they you can progress your understanding of horses and riding much quicker than having a horse-riding instructor who teaches uses different techniques to the way you learn best.

Simple learning styles

When we talk about learning styles and ways to process new information, we can use the simple terminology below.

  • visual
  • verbal (auditory)
  • active (kinesthetic)

We can even divide the visual learning style into pictures and words to provide a greater depth of understanding of the types of styles we can use to learn to actively ride and also to learn more about the theory of riding or theory about horses in general.

Broad categories of learning styles

However if we talk about four broad categories of learning styles we would look at the four categories below

  • active/ reflective
  • sensing/ intuitive
  • visual/ verbal
  • sequential/ global

Active/ reflective

Do you know some one who wants to get out a ride the showjumping course before the instructor has even finished explaining it to them? They enjoy active participation, usually in groups but they sometimes act impulsively to their or their horse’s detriment? It sounds like they are an active learner.

Does your instructor tell someone you know to stop analyzing and to just get on with it and ride? They might analyse how they can ride the best dressage test by changing their horse’s feed or buying a false tail. You would describe them as reflective.

Sensing/ intuitive

Sensing learners love to follow the rules and guidelines. Just ask them if you are about to ride a dressage test in a combined training competition and don’t know the rule about riding with a whip. They will not only tell you the exact rule, they may even be able to quote the page number it came from.

Intuitive learners on the other hand may be bored with the same rules and suggest ways to adapt them into a completely different competition. If you look at competitions like Prix Caprilli it probably came from an intuitive learner who got bored with dressage and jumping and made up some new rules. Intuitive learners like lots of variation and are open and adaptable to changes.

Visual/ verbal

Visual learners learn by watching others. They go to competitions and watch other riders and then come home and practice. When they are having a lesson they insist that their equestrian coach shows them what they mean, and will ask their instructor to ride their horse to show them.

Horse riding instructors love verbal learners. The instructor only needs to explain what they want done and the verbal learner goes out and does it. They follow instructions perfectly, only need to be told once and it has been recorded in their head to quote back to you later.

Sequential/ global

Sequential learners love steps to completing. If they are given steps to apply their aids in sequence to obtain a flying change, they don’t understand why their horse didn’t listen. They love to progress through exercises like a showjumping course so they can follow the numbers.

Global learners are different. They will intuitively correct their horse if they haven’t listened to the half halt in preparation for a movement and apply the aids they need to complete a well-executed flying change. They may also ride half way around a showjumping course and forget where the next jump is!

Which learning style are you?

You may see bits and pieces of your learning style in all the above, although you would probably have a preference of one style over another in each of the categories. Your preference for the over-riding style could be mild, moderate or strong.

It doesn’t really matter which style of learning you have. The main thing is that your horse-riding instructor is able to identify it and teach you according to your best learning style.