Horses are amazingly sensitive creatures with a well developed prey instinct. They have an acute awareness of all that is happening around them. This is by necessity of course as they need to be ready to spring into action if a predator is nearby.
(photo credit Adrian Parnham)
If they are startled by a plastic bag blowing in the wind, or a noise in the bushes I want them to be aware of that event but to HOLD OFF on their behavioral reaction, and wait for direction from me.
If my horse's normal reaction would be to spin or bolt or rear at the sight of a scary object, I need them to stay put and wait to hear from me what I want them to do.
This requires significant emotional control over their anxious feelings. They need to learn a new way to react to an alarming stimulus. And part of training and riding a horse is to help them to learn emotional control.
These same principles apply to humans with a tendency towards panic attacks, anxiety attacks or overwhelming anxious feelings.
As one of these people, my goal for myself is to also acheive the same expectation I have for my horses - that of emotional control.
I do not need to be simply reacting to every stimilus in my environment. I can also take control of my fearful thinking, my skyrocketing emotions and channel my behavior in another direction.
Oh my gosh, this is so much easier to say than to actually do!