Go Shopping with Dakota: Top 10 Places to Shop at Congress
When trainer and fashionista, Dakota Diamond Griffith, goes to the Congress, she is all about the shopping. Well…and showing great horses! When packing her trailer and suitcase for the Congress, she makes sure to not pack quite enough to get her through the whole show. It’s a great excuse to go shopping. With two large expo centers full of vendors, everyone is bound to find many things that they can’t live without. Congress has everything from home goods, horse clothing, dog clothing, men’s and women’s fashion/boots, horse trailers and many many more great vendors.
This year, we asked Dakota to go along with GoHorseShow and come up with her favorite Top 10 places to shop. Dakota’s client, Brandy Halladay also came along to offer her opinion and her picks as well. Let’s find out which vendors and must have items they picked this year.
1) Harris Leather and Silverworks – Welcome to the world of fine handmade show equipment. Harris is the premier seller of gorgeous saddles, bridles, boots, show outfits for men, show blankets, show halters, custom spurs, custom silver pieces, show and work equipment, pony saddles, as well as used Harris and Non-Harris saddles. You may also custom order your own personalized western saddle or can purchase saddles that are already in-stock. Some of the new trends in saddles are the hybrid western seats (above left) that are a mixture of suede and ostrich, skirts that are both black and brown, black laced leather (right), tooled seats, and, mixed ostrich and crocodile skirts, studs, and elephant hide. Dakota told us that, “Brown leather is the new black.” (below left) Dakota also loved the laced leather overlay (pictured right) as well as these silver blinged out english stirrups (pictured below right). “I love anything with bling and these stirrups are a must have for me.”
If you can’t afford one of their spectacular show saddles, opt for their popular signature Harris logo jackets or sweatshirts instead! There’s something here for everyone! Allow 3-4 weeks on custom items, but lots of choices in stock. Gift certificates are available.
2) Justin Boots is also located in Congress Hall in T3 and T5. Did you know that it takes more than 100 steps to produce one pair of Justin boots? In addition, more than 16 square feet of natural leather goes into every pair, making it easy to see why Justin boots are such a great value. Make sure to stop by and check out all the new styles in stock. Dakota loves the detail and stitching in this pair of western boots. They are priced at $189.95. “You can use these as a work or show boot and remain stylish in both pens,” Dakota says.
3) Boo Yah Custom Clothing – Boo Yah Custom Clothing is excited to feature their hunt seat clothing with Beval Saddlery at the American Quarter Horse Congress trade show in Congress Hall. “We have the largest selection of in-stock hunt shirts and coats for women of the year. Many colors, patterns, sizes for purchase, or you can custom order for later delivery,” says owner, Megan J. Brown along with Elizabeth “Spike” Brewer. Dakota and her friend Brandy Halladay loved the detail in the Boo Yah shirts, and Dakota, of course, picked a pink one! “We just love the intricate detail and pattern on the shirts. They are edgy and different without being overdone,” Dakota and Brandy told us.
4) Kimes Jeans and Apparel – Who loves Kimes Ranch jeans? We do! Check out their new style, Jolene. You can find them at many Congress vendors including Closet Space in the Annex Building, Rod’s Western Palace, and Pard’s Western Store. They are great to ride in or wear out. With a lower rise, this jean is balanced with a larger boot cut and flattering pocket placement. The stand out light stitching makes it an eye-catching option for those looking to take a step into this trend-setting brand. They also have fabulous ball caps and, sweatshirts, and tank tops. Dakota loved the pink Kimes ball cap which she is featured wearing here (above). “I just love the Longhorn logo, and it is a family run business so I’m all in.”
5) SmartPak – You can find everything you can imagine at SmartPak from attire, boots, grooming supplies to supplements. You can go by their booth in Congress Hall and sign up all your horses for SmartPak’s ColiCare program, which provides up to $7500 of colic surgery reimbursement. It goes to the owner of the horse if the horse were to have to undergo colic surgery, as long as the horse is on a ColiCare eligible product and enrolled in the program. They also have some great riding attire at their booth including Piper brand hunt seat work pants which are 15% off. Of course, Dakota liked the pink and black ones (pictured left). “I just love them because they are comfortable and fashionable at the same time,” the fashionista says.
6) Good Ride – Good Ride has a great new selection of items in Congress Hall from inexpensive t-shirts and hoodies to higher end shirts, jackets, and winter coats. Good Ride is one of Dakota’s favorite places to shop because most of everything is blinged out. “Rhinestones never go out of style,” Dakota says. “Neon and bright colors are also the trend these days which I love so add rhinestones and I’m in love. The jacket with the GR in big bold letters is a showstopper for me.” (pictured above)
7) Closet Space – Closet Space, which is a equine related consignment shop and boutique has some great deals at Congress in the Annex building. They specialize in the resale of new and used show clothing. They also offer a unique selection of jewelry, accessories and fashion apparel with the latest horse show trends. Dakota’s only purchase during our shopping expedition was at Closet Space where she purchased a gorgeous pink and black colored sweater (pictured above left as our main photo). Closet Space also has used show outfits and Kimes Apparel. “Like I said neon is in, and I love the colors in this sweater and Kimes hat. The sweater is also is not bulky and very slimming to my body. I also love this show jacket (pictured above right) with the spikes. It is edgy without being over the top.”
9) ProHorse Services – Congress Super Sale is a big deal every year at the Congress. Find your dream horse in the sale or sell one of your prospects. Mike Jennings of Pro Horse Services is a great guy to work with and he also has monthly on line sales where you can consign or buy a horse from the comfort of your own home. We checked out the sale horses in the Lausche Building and came up with several we would have loved to have taken home. This well respected company is in charge of all the major sales in the industry. Debbi Trubee of North Farm told us that the prospects she put in the sale went for a considerable amount and that the Congress Super Sale is one of the best in the industry. Find out more details on their sales on their website.
9) Horse Gym USA – Dakota and Brandy checked out the infrared vibrating Relax machine in the Annex building as well as the treadmill. Dakota opted out of trying the aqua treadmill for fear of messing up her hair and makeup, but she was impressed with the product line. Horse Gym is displaying their complete line at the Congress. On display at the Quarter Horse Congress trade show is the HORSE GYM USA® | WALK treadmill, the HORSE GYM USA® | WATER, the HORSE GYM USA® | SPA, and the HORSE GYM USA® | RELAX for competitors and spectators to check out. They can be found specifically in the Annex building, 1007-1010.
10. Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine – Need a horse pampered or looked at by a renowned vet? Make sure to check out Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine located right outside Cooper Arena and the Gilligan Barn. Stop by the clinic to make an appointment for your horse, 919-602-3085 (mobile clinic). They do pre-purchase exams, performance exams, therapeutic injections, and performance therapies. Brandy Halladay has used them before and is impressed with their cutting edge techniques. “They are very forward thinking and are interested in finding out the problem and not mask it,” Halladay told us. “They are not afraid to try experimental treatments and do cutting edge research to help your horse.”
We would like to thank Dakota and Brandy for taking the time to show us their favorite must haves from Congress! Until next year!