My horse isn't a 'difficult' horse per se, but she doesn't just go right onto the trailer either. She's one of those 'maybe I will, maybe I won't' types who needs patience and encouragement. I prefer to use natural horsemanship methods, meaning I don't want to whip my horse (there are some horrible videos out there!)
A horse with that type of attitude would not last long in my barn.
But then again, it's about training the horse to WANT
to do what you ask, because they respect you and trust you.
OP, I think you would greatly benefit from a trailer loading thread I wrote up a while ago. https://www.horseforum.com/horse-trai...-101-a-205770/
In a nutshell, trailer loading is not a trailer loading problem. It's a ground work
problem. Your horse does not trust and/or respect you enough to put its feet where you ask it to go.... and no whipping needed. Now with that said, I do advise using a whip or stick or something of that nature simply to "make your arm longer" so you can cue the horse's hindquarters from a distance.
When you've improved the holes in your horse's ground work first, then you just so happen to work on ground work with a trailer in the mix. It does not matter what type of trailer you have (ramp, step up, straight, slant, etc) because you are still going to control your horse's feet regardless.
1. When you load, do you (a) go in ahead of the horse and then duck down under the chest bar, or do you (b) stand on the side and encourage them to enter next to you and put the rope over their back as they go in?
Personally, I teach my horses to self load. I feel that it is safer because I do not need to go crawling around in the trailer with them or ahead of them. I use trailer ties in my trailer, so I will unclip their leadrope from their halter and then send them on and just close the divider behind them in necessary and then close the back door.
I have a slant load, so I reach through the window to clip the trailer tie to their halter after everything is closed behind them.
2. If you do (a) above, after you duck down and have the horse in, I assume you don't yet tie the horse until you get the butt bar up. How do you keep the horse from backing off when you go from the front to the back of the trailer, before you get the butt bar up?
Correct. Do NOT tie the horse until the butt bar is up and doors are closed. It is simply for safety.
You teach the horse not to unload until you say .... read the thread I posted above. If you have control of your horse's feet, your horse will not move their feet until you instruct them to do so.
3. If you do (b) above, how do you encourage a reluctant horse to load when your presence on his side might be too much pressure?
?? You teach your horse proper ground manners and this is not an issue.
4. If you have a front exit for the horse (no ramp), how do you keep the horse from rushing out and/or jumping to exit?
Once again, if you have done your homework and taught your horse proper ground manners, the horse will not rush anywhere, because you are in control of their feet and they are going to wait on your for your instruction.
5. Assuming you have a choice between exiting out the front or backing off the trailer (no ramp either way), which do you choose to use and why?
If I had the option of choosing between walking the horse off, or backing them off, I would walk them off. (easier on the horse) However, going through the method I posted above, you will teach them to back off in the process, which is simply important for them to know if you ever do you a trailer that requires them to back off.
With my slant load (no ramp), my horses must back off so that is what we do.