Amberley and Lacey performing the Spanish Walk

Amberley schooling Goldie at Thompson Country

There are four stages of learning:

Unconscious Incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know. This is where everyone starts before they learn a new skill. For example, before someone starts riding lessons, they have likely never heard of “posting” the trot.

Conscious Incompetence – You know what you don’t know. This is the first level of awareness, when you realize you don’t know how to do something. For example, seeing someone posting the trot but not knowing how to do it yourself.

Conscious Competence – You know how. This is where many people spend the bulk of their time learning to master a specific skill. For example, after being taught how to post the trot, the brain must consciously coordinate the movements in the body. It requires a lot of focus and concentration to rise and fall in rhythm with the trot.

Unconscious Competence – Reflex. This is when the body can perform the action on autopilot, without actively thinking about how to do it. For example, experienced riders can go into posting trot, and even pick up the correct posting diagonal without thinking about it first.

Equilibrado Coach and Trainer Amberley Marsden

Amberley’s teaching philosophy combines the fundamentals of dressage with natural horsemanship as a basis for all disciplines, and believes that to maximize a horse’s potential, the horse must be properly developed mentally as well as physically. After re-training numerous horses that came to her with physical and mental issues, which stemmed from poor training in the past, Amberley firmly believes that it is better for the horse and easier for the rider to take the time to do it right in the first place. A horse, like a human, will always revert back to its old paradigms in a crisis situation, so the beginning of a horse’s training is crucial to its long-term success. When starting young horses, Amberley focuses on laying a solid foundation both on the ground and under saddle, to help the horse excel in any future career. Amberley also specializes in teaching her students to work with their current horses in the discipline of their choice, helping to develop them to their maximum potential regardless of breed, discipline, or athletic ability.

As a coach, Amberley’s primary focus is always on safety. While she teaches her students how to have a correct position that will help them to ride effectively, Amberley also believes that good riding goes beyond “looking pretty” in the saddle. A skilled rider not only has a correct and effective position, but also has the ability to safely deal with situations that can arise while riding and working with horses. In her lessons, Amberley focuses on teaching overall horsemanship skills, not just equitation. After years of studying and applying natural horsemanship principles, she has incorporated many of them into her coaching program, and teaches her students about the equine psychology or the “why” behind everything they learn. She believes that for a rider to be effective, they must understand why they are doing something, how to do it correctly, when to apply it, and what the result should be.

Amberley focuses on taking her students safely through these four stages of learning, until they can perform the skills they have learned by reflex. In riding, reflex is the equivalent of working in harmony with your horse. No matter what discipline, whether it is jumping, dressage, reining, natural horsemanship, or any other style of riding, the end goal is always to make the partnership between horse and rider look effortless and for the cues, or aids, to become invisible to onlookers. When this level of harmony is achieved, riding becomes a dance between horse and rider – an art form, not just a sport. 

Luminescent (aka Lacey) at Training Level in 2016

Amberley created Equilibrado Equestrian to build awareness of the importance of proper development of the equine body and mind. Her goal is to help spread the principles of dressage and natural horsemanship as a foundation for training horses in any discipline, to build happy, well-balanced, athletic, grounded horses and riders who will excel in whatever area they choose to pursue.

Lacey has shown to Intermediate 1 with Amberley

Amberley started training horses in the early 90's, and began coaching professionally in 2003. She has an extensive background in a variety of disciplines, including Natural Horsemanship, Dressage, Jumping, and 3 Day Eventing. Amberley's passion lies in Dressage, in which she has developed and shown horses from Walk-Trot through to FEI Level. She holds Bronze, Silver, and Gold Equestrian Canada Achievement Medals from Training Level through FEI Small Tour, and is an Equestrian Canada Licensed Coach. Amberley has spent many years working with a variety of breeds, and her training program is now primarily focused around building the mind as well as the body through Groundwork, In-Hand Work, and Dressage. She primarily trains out of Limited Edition Farms, and travels to stables within the Edmonton area for lessons and clinics.

Amberley and Lacey at Intermediate 1 in 2022