To be honest, I don't do squat on the ground.
All my horses can lead, go backwards, sideways, pick up their feet, and load on a float. That's about the extent of it.
I have horses to ride them, so that is what I do.
Before heading out on the trails, I make sure I can control each part of my horse seperately - Head/neck, shoulders, ribcage, and hindquarters.
When i'm on the trail, I have loose reins. I'm never holding onto my horses face.
If we reach something scary, I sit relaxed and let them decide how they are going to react. They are allowed to look, that's not a problem.
If they start to spook, jump around, speed up/slow down - I flex their head away from the scary object and use my leg to keep them travelling the same line. Gently at first, but I can turn it into a leg yeild with bum toward scary object and head away if I need to. I don't get mad, but I insist.
Once we are past it, I drop the rein and continue on. I don't stop and make them sniff anything - that teaches them to stop what they are doing and take their attention off me. I teach them to give their attention and control of their body to me, and I will get them past safely. Every time we encounter something scary and I get them through without them being hurt, they get a little more confident in my judgement.