2023 California Championship Amateur All Around: Taylor Lauren Deppen/ Flat Otto Money

Winning an California Championship All Around Champion award shows your strong desire to show. Which is your favorite class for you and your horse and why is it your favorite?

My favorite class to show Otto in would have to be Western Riding. It has always been one of my favorite events to watch and show. When it’s done well it’s so fluid and pretty, and shows off the athleticism of each horse. Otto has a lot of natural cadence and talent for it and it’s the event he enjoys the most.

What challenges did you face in winning a CA Championship All Around Champion award with your horse – or was it easy to win? What advice could you give to other exhibitors hoping to win this prestigious award?

Any All Around title is a challenge in my opinion! You have to be connected with your horse and stay consistent over the course of the show. As a DIY who keeps my horse at home instead of in training, it’s an added challenge. I’ve had some amazing trainers along the way during my show career, but this specific award was won with my own sweat and hard work, making it even more meaningful. My advice for anyone showing in the All Around is to just keep working at it and staying consistent. If you can, watch videos of your rides and study what you can do to improve for next time. Videos are also a great way of looking back to see how far you’ve progressed any time you feel like you’ve hit a road block in your showing. It’s good to remember just how far you’ve come.

How did you practice and prepare to show in the CA Championship show? How often and what did you do (ie: patterns, lots of ride time, go out on the trail – or have more lessons with the trainer?)

I ride at home about 4 or 5 days a week, and each ride is focused on a specific goal. Whether that goal be transitions, steering exercises, pole work, lead changes, etc. I try to make sure the goal is achievable and potentially builds off of the previous day’s goals. I also try to mix up the events and work on 1 or 2 per day so that he never gets bored working on the same things over and over. I also try to make sure that my horses have turn out time at least once a week if not more, as well as walks around the property or short trail rides. This allows them to have a little free time and decompress from constant arena work. I feel like it’s really important for a horse to have that time so that they don’t get burnt out.

What is a special memory you have from the California Championship show? Tell us why this is special and what you’d like to see added for next year.

The California Championship show holds a few special memories and personal firsts for me. First off, was winning the Amateur Horsemanship a few years ago with my now retired gelding Hot Hearts Ablazing. I jokingly asked if I could do my victory lap with my “big check” and they told me to go for it. It was the first big check I’d ever won and the victory lap was a funny and very personal memory I’ll never forget. I would love for them to bring the “big check” back because it was such a novelty for me.

My second memory would have to be last year with my current gelding Flat Otto Money, winning his first circuit award in the L1 Amateur Trail, which was also my first ever circuit award in a Trail class. As well as being a DIY and doing most of the training in this event on my own, trail is still a relatively new event for me. So this circuit award was extra special.

How long have you been showing and what is your next goal?

I’ve been showing since I was about 13 years old. I started out doing 4-H and local level open shows, as well as some small local APHA shows. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I got my first AQHA gelding and started showing more breed shows. It has been an amazing journey over the last 20 years. Horses have definitely shaped my life, and introduced me to more wonderful people than I could have ever imagined.

This year was my first year qualifying for the AQHA World Show with Otto, and my goal for next year is to hopefully qualify and compete in the L2 events. It has been 7 years since I attended my last World Show and I’m super excited to compete again, this time as a DIY with a new horse.