And no, we're not holding up a line of hot walkers here.
I'm curious to see if anyone can throw out some trailer loading advice--or more specifically trailer unloading advice.
As I've known since day one of Opie, exiting the trailer has been a source of great anxiety for him. His go-to is to fly out as quickly as possible, head in the air, anything behind him be damned. He's excellent to get on the trailer. He'll follow you right up, and we ended this morning with him self-loading again and standing still while I banged the butt bar loudly behind him. But the second I ask him to take a step back, it escalates to boom, gone like the wind.
In our last practice session before today, I was able to keep pressure on the lead rope and get him to back out slower--not calmly and thinking about where each foot was, but slow enough that I consider it backing out instead of running out in a blind panic. I didn't do anything different than normal that day so I'm not sure why he was feeling more confident.
This morning I was able to get him stopped halfway down the ramp. Once his hind legs hit solid ground, he stopped with his front legs still on the ramp and stayed there until I asked him to slowly back the rest of the way down.
He genuinely seems anxious about the whole thing. I don't think there's any part of him that's doing it because he's trying to be bad or sassy or ill-mannered. He gets on the trailer, eats his candy while looking out the window, and then the second he thinks I'm about to ask him to back he starts trembling.
I reward him for any small backwards shift where he lets me immediately stop him, but once that back foot leaves the inside of the trailer, he's gone. The drop from the trailer to the ramp is minimal. My ramp is solid, the hinges are solid, and I'm on as level ground as he's ever going to get.
I can live with a quick exit being his thing, but I'm honestly concerned for his safety with how frantic he is right now. I don't want him to fall down, and he has zero regard to bashing his hind end into the butt bar--while it's padded, it's by no means "horses like to maim themselves on perfectly innocuous things" proof.
So, any ideas?