As much fun as it would have been to ride Hero today, I stuck with my plan (for now!) of 2 "non mounted" workouts for every mounted one. But just because it was "ground work" didn't mean it had to be boring.
Quite to the contrary, it was a terrific time to take him out into a newly mowed field and "test" my training. The way the horse reacts in the familiar environs of their arena is one thing. The real test of your work is how well it "sticks" when you go somewhere new. The picture on the left shows baby Hero practicing his leading skills on a field walk back in 2012. You can see he's wearing a halter, but I'm using a body rope so that even at this age, he's learning that his motor comes from behind.
As far as a horse is concerned, you don't have to go far to find some place new. New can be just on the other side of a fence. Today we headed out to a field we haven't worked in before, but it is actually adjacent to his turn out area.
I had previously walked this field because I don't like surprises like giant woodchuck holes.
My primary goal is for Hero to think that no matter where he is working, he is "workmanlike". To set him up for success, I did a little simple lunging and long lining in the arena to get his mind in the right spot. I also used this time to physically condition him at a long trot and practiced working trot to canter transitions. Then we headed out. And while he was a little bit "snorty", I worked slow trot and a lot of trot to walk transitions. It can be tempting to think that "letting him blow off some steam" out there would settle him but I've found that it's the opposite.