The example Gail Ivey used in her post was sneezing - if every time we sneezed, someone pinched us, pretty soon we'd be anxious about sneezing. We'd try really hard not to sneeze, but when we just couldn't help it we'd be in a fret because we knew that pinch was coming, and we'd do all sorts of things unrelated to sneezing trying to deal with the pinch. I think when our horses spook it's often like that - we do something in reaction to the spook - clenching our bodies, grabbing the reins, or in the worst case actually punishing the horse for spooking. It's these things we do in reaction to the spook that can create all sorts of unwanted behaviors.
Spooking for horses is a natural protective behavior - if they didn't spook in the wild they'd be dead. It's a reflex, like sneezing. It's what happens after the spook that's interesting - in most cases I think if we can just keep riding, just keep on doing what we were doing in the first place, or even do nothing at all, that our horse will recover from the spook without our having to "fix" it. That said, you have to have some confidence in your riding just to ignore the spook and keep on with what you are doing. It's also helpful to have some ways to stay calm, yourself, such as concentrating on keeping your breathing regular and slow no matter what happens. It's fine with me if my horses spook - it's not OK with me if I spook in reaction to their spook.
Victoria at Teachings of the Horse had an excellent post that reminded me that I need to order Mark Rashid's new book Whole Heart, Whole Horse - I'm going to do that right now!
No riding today, despite the lovely weather - music lessons instead!