I actually prefer a horse to lead behind me to the side and out of my space. I absolutely hate having a horse walking beside me in my space. If you are walking next to them closely and they spook towards you, guess who is going to get knocked into the ground? I had someone tell me to lean into the horse's shoulder if they are upset by something on the other side, but that does absolutely nothing to keep that horse from jumping into you.
If they are behind you and to your side they can spook sideways without taking you with them. I know they can still run you over, but I always feel like they will avoid you if they have more room.
I actually teach my horses to lead both ways as sometimes it is necessary to have them next to you.
It is other people's horses that annoy me, because so many of them are pushy and disrespectful!