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Prep Zone: Carnation equestrian Lexi Larson is a rising star

Equestrian Lexi Larson of Carnation is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the junior preliminary level.

CARNATION, Wash. — In Carnation, you will find one of the rising stars of equestrian.

Lexi Larson, 17, is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in the junior preliminary level. In April, Larson and her horse Izzy placed 16th at a major international event. They also finished third and fourth this year at two national events where they competed against Olympic-level teams.

"There is a lot of training, blood, sweat and tears that go into this," said Larson, who trains at her Carnation home.

Larson is planning to compete at national events again in the spring and is hopeful to also compete in college. She currently has a 3.9 GPA.

Larson and Izzy have formed a special bond, which is needed if you want to succeed in equestrian.

"I trust Izzy to get me around and get me home safe, and she trusts me not to put her in any position that is going to harm any of us, so it's that double bound," Larson said.

RELATED: Whidbey Island native helps US Equestrian Team win silver in Dressage Grand Prix Special in Tokyo

Larson and Izzy compete in three-day eventing, an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combine and compete against other competitors across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

"Izzy loves to jump,” Larson said. “She's one of the best jumpers.”

Jumping over fences nearly 4 feet high on a 1,200-pound horse is much tougher than it looks.

"Lexi works really hard and is very talented and brave beyond all get out, and not many people can do what she does,” said her mom, Malia Larson. “The horse is very talented and is her guardian angel, but Lexi's bravery and determination are (what) really get the two of them where they have been.”

Long before Lexi Larson worked with Izzy, she first learned how to ride when she was just three with her first horse, little Belle.

"For her third birthday we had a pony party, and I asked the organizer if she had a pony for sale,” Malia Larson said. “And sure, she had one. We went and visited Belle and the rest is history. We fell in love with her.”

Lexi Larson's mom, grandma and great-grandma all rode horses, but it was Belle that got Larson off and running.

"Belle was a good teacher,” Malia Larson said. “She took good care of her and taught her a lot.”

"I didn't know what I was doing, but I would get on and hang on," said Lexi Larson.

And she's been hanging on now for 14 years. Sure, Larson has suffered a few bumps and bruises along the way, but she's also made a good friend that always has her back.

"Everyone has their sport; this is mine,” Larson said. “I love having horses and being able to connect with them. Izzy is like my best friend. We are there for each other. When I'm feeling down, I come say hi to her and she cheers me up. All these things that a best friend gives you, she's there for me.”

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