2011 Congress Shopping Must Haves By Dakota Diamond Griffith
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Dakota Diamond Griffith pictured with Author and AQHA judge Stephanie Lynn who wrote a book about her horse adventures, "A Lifetime Affair" Photo ©

Exactly three years ago, 17 year-old Dakota Diamond Griffith wrote her first story for and little did we know at the time what a huge impact it would have. The inaugural piece was titled "Dakota's Must Haves From The Congress" and our readers made it one of the most popular stories from the entire year. 

This is now Dakota's third year helping Congress shoppers find all of those great pieces you can't leave Columbus without and it's quite possibly her most creative and best yet. As always, Dakota has found items for any budget so go check them out!

Dakota's 2011 Congress Shopping Must Haves

Written to the tune of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

Raindrops on roses (black and white jacket with flowers from Kathy Williams $1875); and crystals on kittens (Hello Kitty belt buckle from ParW Buckles $425);

Bright silver saddles (Dakota’s own custom designed Wenger saddle around $20k); and warm vests for himmm (Doug Carpenter inspired gray vest by Powder River at Rod’s $84.95); Brown belts that package you shaking with strings (Dakota in belt from Putting On The Glitz $389)


Cream colored ponies (Xmas ornament at Rod’s Home $8 - $14) and Chicken ‘N Noodles (Sweet Shop);

Pearls (pearl embellished jacket from Connie’s Customs $5500) and those gemstones which make me go cuckoo (Carrera-Carrera horse pendant with 13 carats of marquis diamonds – Hannah $63,000); Harleys that fly with the moon on their wings (OQHYA raffle bike – tickets $10 each - contact Dakota)


Girls in their Good Ride with black quilted jackets (Good Ride $199); Authors that write of their horse loving passion (Stephanie Lynn - $14.95 @ All That); Silver metallic boots (LaGrange - $299.95) and all kinds of bling (crystal ball bracelets $39-$59 @ SR Gold)


Where the dog lives (Annelise Kimmel’s Wild West dog house - $299); When the freeze stings (fume-less diesel powered infra-red heater from Val 6 Congress Hall, starting at $1,000); When I'm feeling sad (not winning Congress trophy – Don Bell – priceless); I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad.

The bad news is, I show Tuesday and still don’t have my horses at Congress. The good news is the shopping at Congress is the best ever. Do you think I have my priorities straight? Hey, it’s me, Dakota – of course I do!

With vendors boasting their highest opening sales ever at Congress, life is good, or should I say a Good Ride – LOL. The weekend crowds were simply overwhelming. As I started my Congress “Must Haves” journey on Saturday, some of my favorite haunts were actually soooo busy that I had to wait in line, and in some cases, try again on Sunday.

With price points to please every budget, the trends were very strong this year. While crystal still reigns, it is pearls, “the queen of gems, and gem of queens” that are the new “bling." Whether layered around your neck, embellishing your show jackets, or draped metal chic is bigger than ever. Whether you buy a ticket from me to win a Harley, or sport your quilted biker chick jacket from Good Ride (Sold-out until Friday, $199), go big or go home.

My favorite quote of Congress came from Congress supplier to the queens, Babs of uber-chic LaGrange Leather. “If you don’t have metallic in your wardrobe, you’re missing on the runway”. Never one to disappoint, her patent leather boots with metallic thread knock it out of the ballpark at a price point to please under $300!

I didn’t forget my hunt seat roots, but I can’t really show you all my Must Haves until the night of the Masters when I make my “Big Girl” debut on Hopeful Assets’ first foal, “Hopefulleigh”! Ya’ll will be sure to recognize us as she is her dam’s clone (she can be a Must Have too – LOL). With my mentor, Sandra Vaughn cringing, I’m going out on a limb here for the hunt seat. Think velvet and crystals, and good-luck blue. Some trends had to be superstar Linda Crothers’ decked out in her Congress’ finest shadbelly sassed up with a buffalo check cumber bun with Roger Call’s hunter. While fashion dictates that you always match your shoes, and accessories, I could never figure out why hunter tradition paired up brown leather belts with black boots? Well brown no more…black is the new brown in hunter belts with this beautiful and affordably priced snaffle bit belt embellished belt at The Hitching Post (under $50).

Speaking of hunt seat, I’ve gotta run. With the three year old hunt seat futurity looming over my head, I actually need to ride. Now that I’ve left you with ideas to look your best, take heed readers ‘cause I’ll be checking you out.

3 comments for this article Reverse Comment Order
Added: January 02, 2012. 10:14 AM CDT
Hello Kitty Buckle
My Hello Kitty Buckle now has a "cult following"!!!!! It needs it's own paparazzi guard. Whenever I wear it out, I get so many compliments. People go crazy over this one of a kind buckle!!!! Best gift I've ever gotten!!!!
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Added: October 27, 2011. 08:22 AM CDT
Hello Kitty Buckle
Congratulations to loyal column reader Katie Berner Rothenbush on receiving the Hello Kitty buckle from the Must Have Article as her Anniversary gift. Glad we could point you in the right direction for this great item:-)
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Added: October 18, 2011. 10:05 AM CDT
Another blue for Dakota!
No surprise, another great article from an even better rider and an even better girl! Can't wait to check out all of her suggestions... and I'm even more excited to see her show Hopefulleigh!
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