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Freeland equestrian harbors Olympic dream

"Photo: Lindsay Smith smiles happily after she and Holy Gallant place well in the dressage competition in Colorado.While many Whidbey Islanders are anticipating watching the 2000 Olympics on television later this summer, Lindsay Smith of Freeland is dreaming of participating in the 2004 version of the sports spectacular.With Smith's long history of award-winning horsemanship and an outstanding mount in Holy Gallant, one would be foolish to bet against Smith attaining her dream. Especially now that she has won some national gold and silver medals.That's been my goal since I was five, said Smith, now 21, a few days after turning in a terrific performance in Colorado. And the 2004 Olympics aren't a far-off dream. We have to start now to get up to that level, she said, speaking of herself and Holy Gallant. But he's a good horse.That was obvious at the North American Young Rider Championships (NAYRC) held Aug. 1-6 at the High Prairie Farms Equestrian Center in Parker, Colo.Smith and Holy Gallant were members of the United States Area 7 Team of the NAYRC. Her teammates included Katie Cyr of Gig Harbor, Jessica Heidemann of Bellingham, and Karly Pestl of Renton. They participated in the One Star Division Eventing, a three-day event of endurance and performance that includes the three Olympic equestrian disciplines of Show Jumping, Dressage, and 3-Day Eventing.In sweltering heat averaging over 100 degrees each day, Smith finished her first day, in Dressage, in 6th place. On the second day, in Cross Country, Smith moved up to 4th place. On the final day, in Stadium Jumping, she moved up again to finish in second place, winning an individual silver medal after competing against 44 of the best opponents anywhere -- the NAYRC is the premier equestrian competition in North America for young riders ages 16-21, and involves contestants from across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands.Smith's team, with their combined scores, finished in first place for their division and captured the gold medal.Smith's victory came as a great surprise to many in the equestrian community because she has raised and trained her own horse from a local farm. Most horses competing at this high level have been purchased from Europe or elsewhere in the Americas and trained by professionals. Many of the horses are retired former Olympians who have been downgraded due to age.Smith's Holy Gallant is still young at eight years of age and still has five or six good years of competition ahead of him.In a newspaper interview in 1997 Smith downplayed any Olympic dreams, saying You just don't take a $1,000 horse out of the pasture and make it. Now, she's rethinking that position in light of the results of the NAYRC competition.Smith had previously won first place in Sun Valley, Idaho, and took first in Oak Harbor last month at the Whidbey Island Pony Club Horse Trials.Smith has been riding and training on South Whidbey for 15 years and is a 1996 graduate of South Whidbey High School.Whatever happens to her Olympic dreams, Smith anticipates that Holy Gallant and other horses will be the center of her life for years to come. This summer, she spent three months in Switzerland just riding horses.My whole life is involved in horses, she said. It's a great sport. "

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