From Endurance to Dressage
How Do You Learn?
I am an auditory learner. That means I learn by listening and discussing.
I know what kind of learner I am because I get paid to make sure people, namely very small people, are learning. I've spent the past twenty five years learning how to make whatever material I am teaching accessible to all types of learners. I am a teacher after all.
Every lesson I teach includes visuals, lecture, hands-on opportunities, small group consultation (I actually tell my 5th graders to consult with a neighbor), experimentation, physical movement, and so on.
The fancy name for how we learn is called a "Learning Modality." There are many learning modalities, but they are all variations, or permutations, of three basic styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which can become tactile).
I know you're wondering what this has to do with dressage or riding in general, but bear with me for a moment as I explain. When we know what type of learner we are, we can maximize our learning opportunities by searching out experiences that meet our learning needs. Check out these four descriptions of learning preferences and see which one seems most like you.
And before you worry about choosing just one type of modality, know that most of us do best when we utilize more than one type of learning style. I am an auditory learner who learns best by discussing what I've heard or by writing it down later - hence the blog!
The lucky thing for us as riders is that our lessons or clinics are learning experiences that naturally incorporate all the learning modalities! Think about it: it's kinesthetic as we search for the right "feel," it's visual when our trainer shows us, and it's auditory as the instructor calls out corrections or directions.
I love lessons because they always involve auditory learning. The trainer talks while the student listens. And if the trainer uses an earpiece/speaker system, I am really in heaven as the the lesson is then piped directly to my brain. If you are not an auditory learner, you might find all of the trainer's "talk" distracting.
Lessons or clinics also involve a lot of kinesthetic learning as the rider must DO what the instructor says. This works best for me when the instructor gives a lot of oral directions, but for a true kinesthetic learner, you probably just figure it out the longer you ride. Maybe you get better and better at seeing that distance just by riding it over and over. Those naturally gifted riders are probably very much kinesthetic learners. Alas, I am not.
In many cases, a clinician or trainer will also demonstrate visually what they want you do by moving their own body in a sort of pantomime of what we should be doing. My trainer does this all the time as I watch from the saddle. If you are a visual learner, you probably like your trainer to show you by having them demonstrate from the ground like my trainer will do, or you like her to hop on and show you. You probably like to watch others take lessons too.
If you are a tactile learner, someone who needs to take notes or doodle while learning, you probably learn best by attending clinics or watching others participate in a lesson. I don't know if Sarah of Eventing in Color is a tactile learner or not, but I have been amazed before by her note-taking skills.
I'd love to know more about your strongest learning modality and how knowing this helps you maximize your lessons or learning without an instructor. Take the poll if you'd like to see where you are compared to other people, and please leave a comment explaining how you use (or will use!) your knowledge of your learning style to maximize your lesson time.
Definitely auditory for me. I replay things I've heard in my mind, and capturing the tone helps me remember more of what was said or heard. Things I read don't stick quite as well. I can handle something a hundred times, but when I go back to it a year later it's like starting over. I think my auditory tendencies always served me well in school - I was the odd kid out who really liked long lectures.
4/3/2015 10:01:56 am
Everyone's answers are so fascinating - thank you for sharing. :0)
4/2/2015 12:40:10 am
Ahaha. Bane of my existence right here: I am strongly, strongly, strongly kinesthetic and tactile. Serves me really well in life-in-general; I'm kickass at pattern-recognition, learn really quickly and well when I'm allowed to do it my way, and information synthesis is basically my jam. But wow, are most specific learning situations nnnnnnot geared towards me.
4/3/2015 10:04:35 am
So fascinating! I am with Amanda - I definitely talk myself through things. In fact, when I think about it, I actually refrain from touching things a lot of the time (fear of cooties first of all). Touching and moving parts just doesn't do it for me. Even when I do puzzles, I just lay them all out and look for matches without "trying" out the pieces. Interesting share - thanks!
4/2/2015 01:34:52 am
I find this type of stuff super fascinating! I really wish I had identified this sooner and taken more steps to use my learning styles to my advantage during school...
4/3/2015 10:07:25 am
I've tried so hard to see the answers before, but it doesn't always work for me. I can remember a conversation about the topic though. I wrote this post because many people don't know how they learn. Once you figure out your best learning modality, a lot of "stuff" falls into place. I don't get as much from watching good riders, but I do get a lot if I hear a trainer or clinician talking about the rider! :0)
4/2/2015 04:11:57 am
Really interesting to think about, especially as I'm wading through grad school work right now too! I think I'm a combo between kinesthetic and tactile learning. I learn activities best by doing them. I learn directions by going somewhere once, and then I can alway find that place again. It's much the same with riding. I learn a feeling, and I can find it again. In the classroom I learn best by taking concepts and reconfiguring them, or restating them. I like to take the concepts and figuratively pick them up, take them apart, and put them back together. I do this through my notes, usually. I make charts in my notes, and my pages are filled with arrows and bullet points and outlines. If I don't write something down, though. It's gone forever.
4/3/2015 10:11:20 am
Thanks for sharing!!!! I am of course already interested in the topic as making sure people learn is what I do all day long. I try really hard to address all of the learning modalities in my classroom so that every kid has a chance to learn. How frustrating to be a student in a classroom that employs only one type of learning (auditory comes to mind). Adults, like you, can compensate in their own way (taking notes, diagrams, etc.), but most kids don't recognize how they learn best.
I'm more tactile. When I watch a clinic, I take notes. I'm not quick enough at jotting the points down most times, but it's usually enough to jog my memory. I don't know if I learn best that way, but if I don't write it down I forget it. I like blogging about it later. It really highlights what I know and what I don't know.
4/3/2015 10:13:15 am
It's so interesting what works for each person. I am too slow at taking notes, but even if I just write down one word, I can go back and fill in the blanks quite easily based on what I heard. And I am definitely one who likes to write it all down afterward - like you!
4/2/2015 10:53:35 pm
I have a really tough time choosing one modality, or even two. I love to learn by doing, I like to take notes, l can study a diagram many times and keep finding new things from it, and I am also an avid question asker and responder.
4/3/2015 10:15:58 am
I know I learn through a variety of modalities, especially as the subject changes, but even so, I am a listener. Sometimes I just want to shout to the world, JUST TELL ME ALREADY! The only problem with being an auditory learner is that too much noise makes it really hard to focus. :0)
Comments are closed.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: