Dean, a 2010 Greencastle High School graduate, helped lead the Purdue equestrian team to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) regional championship at St. Mary of the Woods College last Saturday. She also won the open rail class at regional, meaning both she and the team will be in action at Saturday's semi-national competition in Springfield, Mo.
"It's kind of funny because I really wasn't expecting to do that well. It's my first year showing at the college level," Dean said.
At the competition, Dean and her teammates will be competing for a place at the national event, set for May 6 in Lexington, Ky. With a solid performance throughout the season's five events, though, Dean has already assured herself a spot at nationals in the American Quarter Horse Association western rider competition.
"I won the region because I got the most points of anyone who showed throughout those five shows," Dean said. "If I do well at semi-nationals, I can also qualify for nationals in the IHSA classes."
The big news of the regional competition was Purdue's team performance. Saint Mary of the Woods had held the regional title since 2003.
By contrast, the Purdue team didn't exist in 2003.
"It was a really big deal for our whole team. We've never done that," Dean said. "Our team is pretty young still; I think we've only had it for four or five years."
Dean said the level of preparation required by the IHSA for the events is minimal, but she and her teammates have put in a lot more time.
"We're required to take a lesson the week before we show. So, really, you can go all year and only take five lessons because there are only five shows," Dean said. "But there are girls in our club that go out and ride every week. We go out there pretty much on a weekly basis and ride."
Having ridden since she was six, including several years of competitive riding, Dean said the pressure level is pretty low at the college events.
"It's been a lot of fun. This kind of showing is a lot more laid back than what I used to do," she said.