Well, today I was riding and it was going fairly well, but near the end we were riding down the road to get back home. I am the one who nursed her fear of traffic. In a split second or two I taught her a vice that, months later, I'm still working out. She's mostly ok now with normal vehicles (vans, trucks, cars, pickup trucks pulling stuff, sometimes dump trucks), but farm machinery is still a problem. Well today, just my luck, a big tractor pulling a long haywagon was approaching us from behind.
Honestly, I don't know who started it-whether I tensed first, unconsciously, causing her to get scared or whether she started getting nervous and then I followed suit, but either way, she was nervous.
She wasn't flipping out, but she was going to. She danced a bit and sort of walked sideways, and shook her head and was getting really tense. I have been on her enough times to know that as soon as the tractor came near or passed us, she would blow up (most likely spin, bolt one of those three-strides-of-canter-bolts, and maybe crowhop...though perhaps it would have been worse, I can't say for sure).
I rode her on a little ways before realizing that I am not a rider enough to sit her out, so I pulled her a few feet off the road and angled her slightly towards it (facing the direction we'd been going in), and stopped. As soon as she could see it reasonably well, she calmed down immediately and stood there as the tractor passed, and did nothing besides watch curiously.
Through my own stupid beginner mistakes, I've taught her that whenever she gets scared, she should stop and look at what scares her. I don't mind this to a point-it's a lot better that she settle when she's stopped and facing the object than take off wildly bucking, but at the same time, I know it's wrong. I know that a horse should continue on and listen to its rider when it's scared, and I sort of feel like, by stopping her, I'm agreeing that there's something for her to worry about.
So...did I do the right thing in this situation? How can I teach her to continue on and listen to me when she gets scared, not need to stop?