A lesson in horsemanship with Tara Orlin

Dressage was her original plan, but she ended up as a professional trainer in Horsemanship. From the age of fifteen Tara Orlin has been taught by the very best in the US, Norway and Denmark. 

By: Tina Aleksandria Hansen
Photo: Madeleine Delp Bergsjø
Published: 22.12.2018


We first meet Tara at a ranch in Hadeland, about a one-hour drive north from Oslo. This has been her base after returning from a longer stay in Spain. She spent several months at AlcantarA Eucestre in Jerez learning Doma Vaquera from the expert and champion Alfonso Lopez de Carriosa. After our visit to Hadeland, Tara is taking her two horses Bonus and Jack to Denmark. They are going for a winter vacation while Tara will be gathering inspiration and further educate herself in the discipline of Horesmanship. Her desired destination is the US, a horse country she has visited numerous times.

My interest in Horsemanship started when I got my first horse at fifteen. She was a former trotter with a lot of baggage. I realized that I had to find other ways to handle and train her, alternative ways to communicate directly with the horse, outside of the actual riding.
— Tara Orlin

When she was seventeen Tara and the horse moved to a western-ranch close to a place in Norway called Hokksund. That was where she was introduced to Horsemanship. The fascination of handling a horse from the ground without ropes and to ride bareback with no bit made Tara eager to learn more. Today Tara practice what is called Natural Horsemanship and put a lot of effort and focus on a close cooperation between horse and rider. The discipline is dependent on mutual respect and trust.


In high demand

After travelling and working on several ranches in Norway, Denmark and the States, Tara started to conduct her own classes. She went from stable to stable meeting riders in need of help with their horses. What started as a passion is now Tara’s livelihood. With great success. Most Norwegian riders know who she is and what she can do. Most weekends you can find Tara teaching her classes. Except for the coldest winter months, then Tara takes on the position as a pupil, to continue her development and education.  

– I try to give all I have to every horse and rider in my classes. At the same time, it’s important for me to continue the search for new inspiration and knowledge. So that is how I spend those winter months each year. Always eager to learn more!

Tara helps horses and people better understand each other. She solves problems such as fear, aggression and loading onto horse trailers. Her goal is to work with horses in a way that is best for that individual horse, so they feel valued and a key part of the team. She also rides and teaches dressage with no bit – and free riding. The goal; to be able to do all thinkable exercises with a horse, without the need for aids or any equipment. What’s her secret?

– It’s all about that deep contact between horse and rider. To become one, a team.


Watch the video from our visit to Tara’s ranch here:


Trust and mutual respect

Effortless, Tara jumps up on Bonus. He is a seven-year-old Norwegian warmblood and has no saddle on, no bit in his mouth. The trust between the two is very strong, she knows he would never do anything to put her at risk. They are friends, but Tara is also the horse’s natural leader. She decides if something is dangerous or not. Bonus is calm and concentrates on his tasks. 

We ask Tara if there are similarities to point out when she is helping people better interact with their horses. She picks lack of mutual respect as a common, main challenge.

Many horses lack respect for their riders, except when they are all geared up. I also see horses that push or step on their owners when they are working from the ground. The basic foundation for asking the horses to do simple exercises is missing. So that’s where we start the training.
— Tara Orlin

Trust is the keyword when Tara talks about the essential, respectful relationship between a horse and the rider. How you can start building that trust? You have to be able to both push the horse away and pull it towards you when the horse is free of any restrains. 

– If you can have the horse pull a few feet away when instructed, that’s a good sign of respect.

Tara doesn’t believe her skills are a gift or a particular talent. For her, it’s about dedication and the will to understand the mind of a horse, paired with a great deal of patience. She’s always eager to learn more and do not see herself as finished with her own education. It’s an ongoing process. 

– I still have so much to learn! Every individual horse is unique. I learn something new every time I work with a new horse and their riders. Finding different methods and techniques. That’s the beauty of working with these amazing animals.



What is Horsemanship?
Horsemanship is a collective term that comprises knowledge of horses based on a fundamental understanding of the horse’s natural instincts and behaviour. Horsemanship is about interaction and to train the horses based on those instincts and their inherited characteristics