I took my first trip to the U.S. Dressage Finals presented by Adequan with one of my longtime students Becky Salinger. Becky and her horse Ted have been with us on and off for the last 5 years or so, and over the past two years Becky really turned up the heat. Ted has been a tricky horse and taken ALOT of time to realize his potential. He originally came to me to be sold, and we had aspirations of turning him towards eventing. While he loves to jump, it became apparent that he might not be brave enough so Becky took the reins back over and really set her mind to riding this difficult horse. He can be a tough horse to ride for even the most talented professional, as he is quite a big mover, spooky, and sometimes cheeky. Becky has worked hard to develop a relationship built on trust and forward riding to instill confidence in Ted. She had great success last year and decided to develop a freestyle set to Neil Diamond. Becky did all the homework on the freestyle, hiring someone to help do the music and choreography, with the two of us putting our heads together to make suggestions on how to highlight his strengths. The result is a fun to watch freestyle that earned her a place at Regionals and then the Finals. Becky rode bravely as Ted was very worried and took the atmosphere to the extreme, making his big gaits BIGGER. She kept the lid on it throughout the test, never got frazzled, and kept smiling and patting him throughout the test. Her score of 69% earned 5th place in the 2nd Level Freestyle and it was pretty emotional for all of us knowing how much she has gone through with this horse to get here. I am so proud of both of them and how they have developed as horse and rider. There is nothing better than being a coach and watching someone have hard earned success. Congrats to Becky, Ted, and everyone (and there are many) who has helped keep this horse happy and healthy. I feel lucky to have been a part of it!