Welcome to a new series on NF Style called “Tack Trunks,” which explores the similarities and differences between what European and American riders pack and store for all occasions, from international shows to riding at home.


The European: George Whitaker

Hailing from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, George Whitaker comes from a family of international show jumpers. So it was a natural progression for him to not only take up the sport but to excel in it.

With uncles John and Michael, both living legends within the equestrian world, George has had a lot to live up to from an early age. And in May 2015, he made good on his heritage when he became one of six riders selected for the Athenaeum Young Rider’s Academy programme, which gives talented young show jumpers like George the chance to spend six months training at a top stable.

Hot on the heels of crafting his skill under the tutelage of six-time Olympian, Jos Lansink, George shares the contents of his competition tack trunk and what helps him achieve optimum results:

“The things I can’t live without are my spurs. I have a lot of different types but only ever seem to wear the same ones. You never know if you need that little bit more or less with a new horse. I am also very funny about anybody borrowing them, such as my brothers!  

“As I am based back in England at the moment, I always have my wet weather gear with me—such as waterproof breeches. As everyone knows, it is always raining here. It’s packed along with the horses’ wet gear.

“I have a variety of different bits and nosebands, just in case something brakes or I want to change something with one of my horses. I also have every back boot and front boot that is known to mankind! Although, like I said with my spurs, I only ever seem to wear the same ones that I like. 

“Another thing I like is a good grooming box. I always like my horse looking well presented when coming out of the box, whether it be for hand walking or flat work.

“Last but not least, I have my two Giannetti saddles. This means that if we are tight for time, my grooms can have another horse ready for me to get straight on [the horse].”

The American: Emma Heise

Rising, 17-year-old rider Emma Heise is swiftly becoming the American sweetheart of the CSI2* circuit in Europe. Ever since her wins at the Global Champions Tour of Madrid last year, she has shown no sign of slowing down and again scored back-to-back victories at St.Moritz in August.

The talented show jumper from Northfield, Illinois trains under the knowledgeable eye of Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton and will head to Palm Beach, Florida this winter to compete at one of her favourite shows: the Winter Equestrian Festival.

We caught up with Emma to discuss what crucial elements of her tack trunk she can’t travel without:

“My tack truck is like a one stop tack shop. I have everything inside that my groom needs for the horses and everything I need for myself! One side tends to hold most of the horses’ equipment: my two show saddles, girths, bridles, etc. I always have a spare helmet and show jacket with me in my tack locker and a rain jacket—even though I never wear it!

“One of the things I love most about my tack locker is that it has a built in phone charger which is so convenient because my phone is always dead. In the other side, I have two drawers. Again, one tends to hold my things like extra spurs, gloves, hair nets. I always have extra hair nets because I always lose mine. I make sure I have boot polish with me at every show and hat and boot deodoriser—weird, but it’s one of my things! 

“I have another section where the horses have countless packets of polos and normally you can find some Cavalor treats in there, too. My horses love to be spoiled!

“Of course, the most important thing is snacks. My groom always has some snacks hidden in there—not hidden very well though, as I always find them and take them when he’s not looking.”

Photo of George Whitaker via Arena UK Show Centre