So in this stage I did in fact finish the background. I added highlights on the water ripples. I also added dark mud mounds and worked on the light brown reflection in the puddle. I applied a thin glaze (or wash) of Burnt Sienna over the horse to knock back the contrast of the highlights.
Work in progress for : www.saddleupestates.ca
My final steps for this painting will be to move down to a smaller brush an to go back in with darks and highlights and to add fine details.