I bought an 8yo MFT 5 weeks ago......... My horse spooked and was spinning around. I was terrified! What little confidence I had is gone. I was able to stay on her, but the thought of this happening again is enough to make me not want to ride again. This is my second horse since Nov. I feel like a wimp and failure!!
I would recommend that rather than allowing yourself to dwell on the fear you felt during the spook, the "take home" from this event should be that YOU STAYED ON! You rode out the spook, you did NOT fall off, and you were not hurt! Those are big things....
Instead of feeling that a spook event is bound to lead to some kind of doom, concentrate on the fact that you stayed on and rode it out! You did well! Depending on how you look at it, what happened could be a confidence builder rather than a confidence breaker... Part of having "confidence" is having the feeling that you will probably be able to ride out whatever happens! You've already done it once!
With all that was going on at the time, a spook is not unexpected....
There are many things that you can do to improve your confidence and your ability to be relaxed and comfortable in the saddle. One of the most effective things that I have found to help me keep my seat is just to pay attention! Sure, I fell off while doing all sorts of things when I was young, but as an adult, literally every time I've fallen off, I would have stayed in the saddle if I had been paying proper attention.
Keeping a close eye on "where your horse's attention is" is also important. If he's looking off to the left side of the trail, then maybe you should be looking out there to see what's got his interest. Things will go better if you can see a potential spook before he does!
Another thing that I do when trail riding is to catch a hold of the swell of the saddle when I turn around to talk to someone behind me. Kinda like hand-checking: if something happens while I'm not looking I'm already connected to something that I can hold onto while I get back in position.
When you mount up or dismount, keep alert to the fact that you're in a "less-secure" position for a short period of time and be very "tuned in" to your horse during this time and have in mind what you'll do if there's a spook. As Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind" and if you're ready to react, you're a lot more likely to avoid a problem.
I realize that none of these connect directly with the spook event you experienced, but my point is that the more "tools" you have in your "riding tool box", the more confident you will probably be about riding in general.
Sort of like they say about real estate (location, location and location), confidence in riding is build up significantly through (1) time in the saddle, (2) time in the saddle and (3) time in the saddle! There's just no substitute for it. Things become automatic and second-nature. You'll experience incremental victories over various things. First, an overall improvement in feeling calm and relaxed in the saddle in general. Then, one day, you'll realize that something that had made you very nervous initially (loping, for example) has become totally enjoyable and lots of fun! I'll never forget the first time I ever rode a horse at full speed, totally stretched out going across the pasture, without thinking about the process at all. Literally, halfway across the pasture it occurred to me that I was only having fun, not worrying about staying on or anything else. It was a really cool realization that I'll never forget, even though it was 49 years ago!
Another facet of it all is this: the more time you spend with your horse, both riding and doing other things as well, the more you and Cloud will learn about each other. At the same time you learn what is liable to startle or spook him, he will be learning that the sources of these spooks are not dangerous after all! These two changing factors will merge in a very good place. You and your horse will most likely wind up with a deep bond and that is the most rewarding, valuable part of the whole thing to me.
Sorry for getting long-winded.... I just want to convey that you did very well in riding the spook event out and I hope you do NOT quit! I can not express how much fun I have riding, handling and just being around our horses. I hope you wind up feeling the same way!