Dakota's 2011 AQHYA World Show Must Haves
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"What makes this hot new company unique is that they can produce your name, logo or favorite horse’s photo into a one of a inked and/or stoned design in just a matter of days," Dakota said of the new vendor, I Stone Design. Pictured Dakota with I Stone Design Employee, Arielle Pelletier

With record temperatures pushing the thermometer well above 100 degrees for the past month, the exhibitors arriving at the Ford Built Tough AQHYA World Championships in Oklahoma City just can’t catch a break. The good news is that the vendors are open to serve you in the luxury of A/C! Shopping never felt so good.

Must Haves are something that just comes naturally to me, but after several seasons of providing readers with fashion and gift advice, it takes something really new and innovative to catch this discerning diva’s attention. Not to disappoint, this year’s Must Haves are some of my favorites including a few exciting new vendors to add to your list. This year I put a new twist on my Must Have concept by wearing items from different shops around the show, and listening to your feedback undercover – LOL.

“Get the Winning Look” with Barbara’s Custom Hat Shaping may sound a little cliché, but this hot new west coaster brought her game – and a selection of amazing hats. It is increasingly hard to add a new twist to a staple item, but this lady had me at “Hello.” Keeping in tune with the World Show slogan “Taking Vintage Off the Shelf”, Barbara’s one-of-a-kind blocks brought mid century western shaping into the millennium in a hot new way. This lady can block a hat with her own signature style like no one I have ever seen before, and her hats are one of a kind. As I stood there watching her artistry in motion, this gal drew the biggest crowd in the building. Catching my eye first were not the stoned sensations, but the palm hats with hand burned-out detail. With more than 6+ hours creating each classic design, her price points were really competitive with hats starting at only $200. And just for the record, the Barbara hat that I wore for the day brought the biggest reaction of any item I have ever endorsed. Catch me in the Performance Halter Geldings in one of her special creations!

AQHA Outfitters buyers rocked it this year. I’ve always been loyal to this great retailer as the past Youth President, but the AQHA Duffel bag was amazing. Available in either brown or brown and white hides, the craftsmanship is outstanding. The best news is that no matter what your discipline is, they can customize your own personal bag with a leather patch! At $270 it rivals bags retailing for more than twice the money. Take a zero and change off the duffel bag price, and a major must have at Outfitters was the “Braiding Book” which featured the “How To” on all those great banded mane looks that we all wonder “How’d They Do That”?

4W Western offers one of a kind custom designed bridles and breast collars, but you won’t be able to photograph the merchandise. Owner Sissie Wherrell’s daughter gave us exclusive access to their Made In Texas products featured in “Go Texan.” Just $575 buys a matching head stall and breast collar with exceptional craftsmanship and materials. You don’t have to be Miss Rodeo to appreciate this amazing Made in the USA vendor.

Going Green is easy when you log onto, but keeping the whole recycling theme of going green close to my heart was Rawhide N Roses where the beautiful Jennifer Bartel will show you her Texas-made line of handcrafted shirts made with recycled fabrics starting at $70. Top it off with one of her adorable hats, and your fans will be looking amazing for that winner’s circle photo this year!

After hauling five straight years for the Hunter Under Saddle title, I can tell you first hand how challenging it is to keep your hunt seat wardrobe looking great after weeks on the road. A Bit More offers a new twist on the classic hunt blouse with their “Snap Collar” shirts which keep klutzes like me from losing their chokers. With a built-in choker, these super cool blouses are a MUST HAVE in this ridiculous heat. Constructed of Cool Max fabric (think Under Armour), you can literally wash their blouses in your sink at the hotel and hang them up to dry by morning. The better news is that they will only set you back $125 which makes them extremely competitive in the high end Hunt Seat market.

Need that special gift for your trainer or BFF? At $78, Spurs and Pearls offers beautiful one of a kind custom made frames (also Made In Texas) to remember that special occasion. Tener’s also offers a hand crafted Photo Tin Frame crafted by Mollye Ireland at the remarkable price point of $45 for that special win photo.

Want the best price in Oklahoma on the AQHA full quill ostrich and goat upper boot? Tener’s again - where they are priced to sell at only $299.  Oh, and just ask my new friend, two and a half year old Colt Mitchell of Missouri whose Must Have is a sassy diaper and GoHorseShow green t-shirt to beat the heat. Gotta love his fashion sense.

John Hall of the Hitching Post let me assemble my annual “Must Have Look” for the Hunt Seat classes on his mannequin. Appealing to both the traditional and trendy, you are sure to get noticed in this silky tone on tone shirt from Stable Cloth ($175) and staple Marigold hunt coat at $499. A little pricey, yes, but well worth the investment. Come on ya’ll this is the World Show! Want to look like a million for a few dollars? Pick up one of a Troxel Helmet tote to store your helmet, gloves and accessories for only $40.

Glitter and bling are great, but sometimes it all comes out looking a little mainstream. Daytona Florida’s “I Stone Design” is a new vendor at the AQHYA World Show who added a little twist to those “skull and cross bone” designs we have all grown to love. The best news is that their price points are also something to write home about with custom creations starting around $30. What makes this hot new company unique is that they can produce your name, logo or favorite horse’s photo into a one of a inked and/or stoned design in just a matter of days. Guys and girls will both love their innovative tees which include a large variety of burnouts and other awesome fabric and styles. Fashionista employee, Arielle Pelletier offers customers many great hand crafted touches for that special item to make you feel super sexy. You pick the garment from their great selection – then you pick the artwork and stoning, and in minutes, they create your personal look. I had more compliments on my gothic inspired tee from their shop in five minutes than I have gotten on any similar garments 3 – 4 times the price!

Last but not least, the "Must Have Manicure" of the show can been seen on both me and Cheryl Hawkins' gorgeous nails---Pink Tips! We didn't have it planned but it goes to show that both of us love pink and Mrs. Hawkins definitely has style.

It might be World show time, but it’s time to reserve your spot for the Reichert and Congress issues of Go Mag. That’s a no brainer on this girl's Must Have list – duh.

Well, this competitor/reporter’s gotta run. Good luck to all competitors!

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