tara orlin horse trainer







"To help someone you have to be able to understand them. We often want to compare our horses actions to human behaviour and human logic, but the thing is, its a horse. Horses dont have human logic, they have horse logic"

"First of all, horses are amazing beings. They are a lot like us, they have a soul, they feel fear, sorrow, depression, insecurity, happiness, love. They are animlas who feel a lot and they are flee animlas, which means they are prey animals and run from danger. 

To be calm, relaxed and happy, they need to feel safe and be in a good place, just like us. They need time to trust, time to bond and they are very social animals. They are ment to live together, not alone. 

Because they are animals, and not humans, they need to be shown safeness and security in a different way. Its not enough to simply tell them that something is safe and ok, you have to prove it to them. You need to show them what you want in a way they can understand.

The better you understand horses and horse behaviour, the better you will be able to train horses. 

Getting to really know your horse is about more then just riding. Its about developing a relationship. For you and the horse to be safe together and communicate well, you have to know each other. The horse needs to know that you will lead him well, and that he is safe with you.

"It is important to be aware of what you are doing with your own body and inner energy when you train horses. Horses communicate with body language and energy, they dont use words. If a horse wants another horse to move, he would need to physically make the other horse move, or the other horse would make him move.

Horses have a rang system. The strongest and smartest horses are the leaders. When two horses meet for the first time, the first thing they need to do is to find out who is higher and who is lower. Either you move me, or I move you. The one that can move and control the other horses feet, will be the leader. When this is established, they can be friends and build a relationship. Depending on the horses, this "dominance fight" could take anything from two minutes to weeks and months.

It is importent to learn how to be a good leader for your horse. If the horse knows that you are in control and in charge of the situation, the horse can relax, knowing you will take of things. If the horse feels that you are not in control however, the horse would think he would need to take control himself, making the horse nervous and stressed, insecure and possibly out of control.

"With a good relationship comes good control, and with good control comes safety. Also you want the horse to want to be with you and enjoy whatever you are doing together. To achive this you have to let the horse make choices and think for himsel, and not be forced or punished for mistakes.

The horse needs to know that you are his friend and that you are there for him to help and guide him.

To get good control you have to start communicate with the horse from the ground. You need to be the bigger horse that tells the other what to do and how to act. Like being a parent for your kids. You want to be the kid's friend, but you also have to be in charge, if not the kids would probably go crazy.

You need to know that you can trust your horse, so if you tell him to do something, you can be sure that the horse will actually do it. Like for example telling the horse to move out of the way if a car is coming, or going into a horse trailer, or being able to stop if you see something in your way when you are out riding. You need to know that the horse will listen, in any situation.

I am sure  you wouldn't want to drive a car you couldn't stop, stear, speed, break, back up or park. Well I wouldn't ride a horse I couldn't stop, stear, speed, break, back up or park. Being able to do all these things is your security.


Groundwork is all about getting to know the horse and start developing a relationship where you show the horse that you are the leader, in a good, polite and consequent way. You will need to have some bounderies and some rules. 

Like mentioned above, to be the "horse leader" you have to be able to control your horses feet. And the way the horse responds to your requests will tell you a lot about the horse.

It is great to start the training with your horse when the horse is free, at liberty. In this way the horse feels free to express his real feelings and you will see the truth. People claim to have control of their horses, but when they set the horse free they can't tell the horse to do anything and the horse just runs around ignoring the human, meaning the human is not really in control. 

Just by practicing some simple things with the horse you will build trust, respect and get control. If you train the horse in a halter and lead rope, make sure your equipment is safe and in order. A good rope halter will not break, and with the rope directly connected to the halter (not a metal hook) you can feel safe and trust your equipment completeley.


* Personal space. Make sure the horse is not bullying you and pushing you around making you back away.

* When you are walking or leading/lunging your horse, make sure you are the one deciding where you are. Dont let the horse pull on the rope and move you around.

* Be able to back your horse, making him move out of your space backwards. Backing up in general is great for both muscles and mind.

* Be in charge of the horses speed and gates, walk - slow and fast, trot - slow and fast, canter - slow and fast.

* Stop and stand still. Practice patience. Ask the horse to lower its head and relax.

* Be able to move the horses hind end, meaning moving just the back legs out of your way. This will also help you control the head, when the hind moves away from you, the head comes to you.

* Be able to move the horses front end, moving only the front feet.

* Be able to ask the horse to bend its head to the left and right, without moving the feet. This will help you get coontrol over the head.


Horses are proud, smart and sensitive. It is important to show them respect and be polite when you ask something of them.

If you can get the horse to listen to you, then you can communicate very soft and light, with very little energy and pressure. Always give the horse a chance to respond to light and soft pressure. You can add more energy in your signal gradually if the horse is not responding. Release the pressure and stop when the horse is trying to do the right thing.  

When you can do all of the bascis with your horse, no matter where you are or when you want, then you are in control of the horse. Asking the horse to do these things will make him think and understand that he is with someone who is taking control. This will make the horse feel safe and able to relax and enjoy life.

These things will make the horse use its left side of the brain, the thinking side. When the horse uses its right side of the brain, he is reacting instinctivly and the horses instinct is to flight when scared. It is impoosible to talk to someone who is in panick or flight mode, so we need them to think, listen and relax.

Do you and your horse a favour, give your horse a good education and good experiences so he can feel proud and confident and safe.