I have a rescued mustang (about 15 years old). He was badly abused and starved when I got him a year ago. He is healthy, now and looks good. He is very timid, but would not hurt anyone. My question is, when I load him in a trailer (slant) he does well. He is very afraid and skittish when I unload. He wants to turn around and walk out head first. Is that OK? Should I continue to get him to back out? Thanks for your time.
Thanks for your question as this is a dilemma that many horse owners face.
When you have a trailer that is wide enough, as yours is, to allow the horse to turn around it is certainly OK to unload that way. However there are times when you might need to back your horse out, say of a friends trailer that is configured differently. So it is best if you can teach your horse to be more confident either way. Also if you do allow him to turn round he must also learn not to rush out…but wait till you ask him out so you remain safe.
If the step down is frightening for him start by backing him over small poles on the ground, then larger ones. When this is good you could ask him to back a few steps down an incline. After he is confident with that find a safe place that would include steps not over 8 or 10 inches if possible and do just one at a time till his confidence builds. I know it might be difficult to find the right playground for this so the other option is to back your trailer up to a slight incline so when he backs out he only has to step down about 6 inches or so and increase that height as he gains confidence. Do the small step down several times before you increase the distance. Give him a chance to give you a “response” not a “reaction” before moving to the next task. This is true with most all aspects of training. Good luck and what a lucky horse to have you.
Follow your heart…it will lead you to peace…