The Multiple Intelligence Theory in Teaching and Training Dressage

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By Ali Perkins

In the first few weeks of elementary school, students are asked to take a Multiple Intelligence test to find out their learning style. The results of the test are then used by the teacher to direct the student’s approach to learning. The Multiple Intelligence Theory was developed by developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner. Gardner believed that intelligence is more than just an IQ score. The MI theory states that there are eight different types of intelligence; logical, interpersonal, kinesthetic, linguistic, visual, naturalist, intrapersonal, and musical. Every human possesses a different ratio of the different intelligences. People learn content best through their intelligence types.

Like teaching school, teaching dressage can be better explained through the use of the eight intelligences. Here is more information on the eight types and how they can be used in dressage teaching:

Logical

The logical learners are good with math and reasoning. They tend to be very factual and enjoy numbers. In dressage training, the precision and geometry of test riding, or the counting of strides and tempi changes are some of the logical learners’ strengths. An example of a logical approach to teaching in dressage could be to have the student count their strides out loud on a circle. Then, have them ride more and less strides on the circle, making the strides collect and extend.

Interpersonal

The interpersonal learner thrives in a social setting. They tend to be very extraverted and have many friends. In dressage training, teaching, and competing among others tend to be some of the interpersonal learners’ strengths. An example of an interpersonal approach to teaching dressage could be to get on the student’s horse and have them re-teach to you what you are teaching them.

Kinesthetic

The kinesthetic learners learn by doing and love a hands-on approach. They tend to be very athletic and active. In dressage training, they tend to have good timing and feeling in their contact and connection. An example of a kinesthetic approach to teaching dressage would be to have the student run their test on their feet before riding it.

Linguistic

The linguistic learners love to read, write, and talk. They tend to remember quotes and listen well. In dressage training, they tend to be good at recalling written dressage theory and dressage tests well. An example of a linguistic approach to teaching dressage would be to give the student a chapter in a book to study prior to the lesson.

Visual

The visual learners learn from what they see. They tend to love art, geometry, and images. In dressage training, they tend to be good with riding test figures and accuracy. An example of a visual approach to teaching dressage would be to use visuals such as mirrors, video recording, or cones/place markers in their lessons.

Naturalist

The naturalist learners love to be outside in nature. They tend to notice patterns (such as those in weather or nature), understand animals, and appreciate the earth around them. In dressage, they tend to be good at connecting with the horses as partners and caring for them. A naturalist approach to teaching dressage would be to teach the lesson outside in a field, or to give the student time to go on a long hack prior to the ride.

Intrapersonal

The intrapersonal learners work best on their own. They tend to be intuitive, self-aware, and independent. In dressage, they tend to be good at working independently to understand a deep connection with their horse through new and innovative approaches. An intrapersonal approach to teaching dressage would be to give the student time to ride on their own without instruction. Then, guide them through questions about their feelings and understanding to let them come to the knowledge on their own.

Musical

The musical learners love music. They tend to be good with rhythms, notes, and playing instruments. In dressage training, they tend to be good at riding/creating musical freestyles, and the rhythm within the gaits. A musical approach to teaching dressage would be to use a metronome to help the student find the horse’s rhythm or to have them hum a tune to relieve nerves.

To find out more information on the Multiple Intelligence Theory or to find your own type, visit the link below:

About the Certified Instructor

Ali Perkins teaches and trains out of Hillsborough, North Carolina. She is a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medalist, Pony Club HB, and USDF Certified Instructor through First Level. She has Elementary Education and Art degrees from the University of Maine at Farmington, and a Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurial Business from Stanford University. She is a longtime student of Lendon Gray and active with the Dressage4Kids programs.

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