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  1. #21
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    Jan. 6, 2008
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    This is good information, as a balance. I am also looking into a new saddle and I really need something that will withstand years of use. I like that we can balance our assessment of products with the good and the bad. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    I'll take a County or a CWD over a Voltaire any day. I know of 3 trainers that had major problems with them (all here in CA), and the rep was, um, less than helpful. The saddles basically fell apart after a year of trainer usage---the foam panels were disintegrating. I've seen some of the new ones up close and personal (taken apart, treeless, and put together) and the leather is pretty dang thin on those flaps. Easily half as thick as my well-used 2005 County Innovation. Expect to wear through them pretty fast. Our CWD rep out here is awesome. I would go with them if I didn't love the advantage of having a wool-flocked saddle.



  2. #22
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    Feb. 13, 2005
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    Columbus, OH
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    Sigh. I gather this is a "can't win for losing" situation.

    You are all entitled to tell your horror stories about Voltaire and Devoucoux, and I'm sure they're true. But here's some context for them that I hope will be useful to the OP:

    1. Devoucoux, as an entire company, has a rotten attitude toward customer service. It's systemic and much bigger than just one or two bad reps. A very good friend of mine interviewed with them to become a brand rep, and it's a systematic problem with how Devoucoux envisions its relationship with the customer.

    I cannot speak for Eric, but my strong suspicion is that he was simply towing the Devoucoux party line--a party line that, once again, totally sucks. Eric had finally had enough of that crap and defected to a company with better customer service values.

    Edited to add: I do think it's rotten that the French brands, or for that matter MOST saddle brands including non-French brands, are not forthcoming about their saddle brand's priorities. DefyingGravity, I'm really sorry that you found out the hard way that the French brands are selling Audi TT Roadsters, not Land Rovers. It would be nice to live in a world where brands were more forthcoming about their target customer and what their saddle prioritizes. I don't think there's anything wrong with building the saddle equivalent of a high-end leather couch, but I can see how people get the wrong impression about durability when they see pro eventers running around in Devoucoux, Voltaire, Antares, etc.

    2. Now let's discuss why a company that I am claiming has good customer service is also bringing out horror stories about bad products and iffy customer service. It's called "Some companies learn their lesson early, and some don't." Like many brand-new brands, Voltaire had some absolutely awful customer service and quality problems early in their run. Again, I could name half a dozen brands that fell prey to the same thing during their first years. Fortunately, this had two positive effects:
    --those early saddles literally fell apart, which saves the rest of us from wondering if we'll buy one (unlike, say, the bad batch of Antares trees which are still floating around)
    --they served as a wake-up call for Voltaire, which at that point was a very young brand. They realized that if they didn't invest ASAP in better quality and top-notch customer service, this early misstep was going to sink them. And they stepped up.

    So when I say "I recommend Eric and Voltaire as of right this second," that's exactly what I mean. I don't recommend the Voltaire of several years ago. I didn't recommend Eric when he worked at Devoucoux unless it was to someone who absolutely HAD to work with Devoucoux (example: someone who had a broken tree and needed it repaired.)

    Obviously every shopper should judge for themselves, ask a million questions, and try talking to other locals who have purchased the brand you're considering *from the rep that you intend to use*. 75% of the experience is your brand rep. The other 25% is the product. Check up on both. And definitely look at multiple products. Not that anybody asked me, but assuming there was solid representation from all the French brands in one geographic area--not that that ever happens--my French brands of choice are CWD, Voltaire, and Delgrange. (None of which I own myself, btw, nor do I aspire to.)

    I have much more to say about leather quality and how it's not directly/causally related to the thickness of a cut of leather, but I'm short on time so let's cut right to this: it's remotely possible that Spartacus was referring to the Second Skin flap option on Voltaire saddles, which AFAIK is unique to Voltaire. It is an optional add-on, not a standard feature. Basically, it's just a piece of very thin, flimsy, but strong suede that "replaces" the sweat flap. It's not such a different concept from a monoflap, but a) a monoflap won't fly in the hunter ring and b) a monoflap is very hard to repair and replace. Voltaire designed the Second Skin option so that it's simple to replace when it wears out.

    So that's that. Best of luck to everyone who's shopping. If you do go with Voltaire, by all means ask them about their rotten early saddles and any of your other suspicions. Most saddle shoppers get screwed because they didn't ask enough questions or didn't know which questions to ask, so the more questions you ask, the better.
    Last edited by jn4jenny; Feb. 19, 2013 at 10:24 PM.
    ________________________
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    5 members found this post helpful.

  3. #23
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    Oct. 14, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by alto View Post
    I wish they'd get listed on the CWD Used Saddle page
    I wish CWD would list a darn tree width rather than a dot to dot measurement. I realize trees vary with manufacturers, but depending on where they put the "dots" and how long the tree points are...I still think medium, wide, narrow etc gives customers a better idea of width. ETA: they should also list the models, rather than just the brand.



  4. #24
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    Oct. 14, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by DefyingGravityEventing View Post
    as a professional, I ride in my saddle too much, which has caused this wear. I should have been more aware of the situation, and done what the real top riders do (he mentioned Phillip) and exchange my saddle for a new one every two years.
    You know, I always wonder about durability. I rode in my old stubben siegfried in JEANS for years, and never wore anything close to holes in it. The printing on the leather wore smooth, but that's it. I was told by multiple saddle booths at Rolex one year that you just CAN'T ride in jeans, it will wear out your saddle. I think durability has really been traded for lack of break-in with soft thin leathers. I can't imagine shelling out thousands of dollars for something that won't last.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by eqsiu View Post
    You know, I always wonder about durability. I rode in my old stubben siegfried in JEANS for years, and never wore anything close to holes in it. The printing on the leather wore smooth, but that's it. I was told by multiple saddle booths at Rolex one year that you just CAN'T ride in jeans, it will wear out your saddle. I think durability has really been traded for lack of break-in with soft thin leathers. I can't imagine shelling out thousands of dollars for something that won't last.
    me neither! And I NEVER ride in jeans!

    As to Eric, it would have been one thing if he had handled the situation properly (and that's not common sense, even if your company policy is *A* you don't treat the customer with snide remarks and without any sort of courtesy. You at least pretend to care and make nice). It is a shame Voltaire went that route.



  6. #26

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    I can't speak as to durability yet, but as to ordering I can. We ordered our Voltaire in November of 2012. It finally arrived a few days ago. (It's March of 2013). All together it took about 16 weeks for it to arrive.

    The company kept in constant contact with me regarding the order status and apologized on many occasions for the delay. I was even given a saddle pad since I had to wait awhile longer.

    They responded to every email within a very short period of time. Usually just minutes and we're always very polite. They even called me to let me know when it was being shipped and kept me posted as to it's whereabouts at all times.

    Eric was our sales rep and, when we weren't sure the saddle was going to arrive in time for an upcoming competition, he offered to meet us there and let us use his demo saddle for the competition. Fortunately it did arrive in time.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #27
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by eqsiu View Post
    I wish CWD would list a darn tree width rather than a dot to dot measurement. I realize trees vary with manufacturers, but depending on where they put the "dots" and how long the tree points are...I still think medium, wide, narrow etc gives customers a better idea of width. ETA: they should also list the models, rather than just the brand.
    I think the dot-to-dot measurement is more helpful because it is easy to take and can be used as a standard across brands.

    Otherwise, how do you know how CWD's MH relates to County relates to Stubben or whathaveyou.

    Oh, and that one measurement doesn't tell you about other dimensions you need in otder to determine fit-- even in the one question of width.

    IME, a M of the Crosby Era and lasting to the present about 4", MW 4.5". 4.75" to 5" is considered W, and beyond 5" is hard to find and pretty dang wide.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  8. #28
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    Oct. 22, 2012
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    Forest Hill, MD
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    I currently have a Voltaire cross country saddle (the Elkton model) and absolutely love it!!! It's the most secure saddle I've ever ridden in, and I love the leather. Mines relatively new, so I can't vouch for what they were like when the company originally started, but I think they've done an excellent job with the ones they are making now. I had a Devoucoux before it and I see a huge difference in the Voltaire tree, as well as the overall quality of the leather. Its a much better fit on my horse.
    As a side note, Eric is my rep, and I personally think he's great, very helpful and friendly whenever I see him, and is quick to respond to any questions!
    Jordan Litter


    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #29
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    Mar. 16, 2009
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    I posted this on another post, but will repost here. I am trading in my 4 year old calf-skin used Devoucoux for a Voltaire. The rep came out in order for me to try one at the end of December. It was an amazing ride. I liked it better than the Devoucoux. Voltaire gave me an incredible deal. I only had to pay $1,700 for buffalo-skin with my used Devoucoux trade in and it comes with stirrup leathers. It is now March and they are backed up and had to open a new factory. I ordered my saddle just before Christmas and I will not get it until the end of March because of the back log. I complained about the longer wait to Voltaire because originally they said it would take 10 weeks and now it is going to be more like 16 weeks. He offered me a free girth and I know they start pricing girths at $350. Well worth the wait! I am very pleased with the customer service. A very popular Myofacial guy said that he has found that the Devoucoux saddles never fit horses right and he will usually find problems in the horse's back. Though, he said Devoucoux fits the rider well. He said he definitely recommends Voltaire. So far I have been very pleased with their customer service and cannot wait for my new saddle.


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  10. #30
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    Aug. 27, 2004
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    I bought a used Voltaire Palm Beach through Voltaire last month. I love it and the customer service I received was absolutely wonderful.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #31
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    Jan. 6, 2008
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    Does anyone have the contact info for the Voltaire rep in Virginia? I'm pretty sure it's Eric. Thanks!



  12. #32
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Middleburg, VA
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    Hmm...I may have it somewhere. Funnily enough, I just saw him and his Voltaire trailer in Leesburg the other day!!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #33
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    Apr. 5, 2007
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    Tampa FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahbaumgardner View Post
    Does anyone have the contact info for the Voltaire rep in Virginia? I'm pretty sure it's Eric. Thanks!
    Eric's number is 804-349-6447, tomorrow is his day off so don't hesitate to call me at the office with any question: 845-875-4438

    Amandine

    Voltaire Design



  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by eqsiu View Post
    I wish CWD would list a darn tree width rather than a dot to dot measurement. I realize trees vary with manufacturers, but depending on where they put the "dots" and how long the tree points are...I still think medium, wide, narrow etc gives customers a better idea of width. ETA: they should also list the models, rather than just the brand.
    I filed my contrarian opinion about this already, but here's the continuation of the (helpful) rant:

    And another thing!

    With respect to trees, there's a huge number of dimensions that have to be right. IMO, that's especially true for a CC saddle. It's the hardest saddle out there to fit. If we were doing this right, we'd take a lesson from Western World: Those guys have a huge vocabulary for various curves on their trees. Adopting those and beginning saddle fit from a bare-naked tree would be the bomb. It would also make the enterprise very, very expensive.
    Last edited by mvp; Apr. 15, 2013 at 02:02 PM. Reason: No double rants!
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  15. #35
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    Jun. 24, 2012
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    My elkton is on its way ! Can't wait will report back!


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  16. #36
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    I just had the county rep out to fit for a dressage saddle. I sat in the jump saddles and nothing can compare with the devoucoux so I'm really hoping the Voltaire will do that... AND fit my horse. I'm optimistic about the Voltaire Elkton!



  17. #37
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    Oct. 17, 2007
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    CO
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    I also had a horrible experience with Eric when he was a Devoucoux rep. He never even measured my horse, instead preferring to tell me that I needed to trust his years of experience and that he knew what size we needed (but nothing he had on the truck fit either of us, of course). When I expressed concern about the fit being right, he practically yelled at me, "Do you know who Phillip Dutton is? He rides in our saddles." Yep.

    Between that and him telling a pro at our barn (whose flap fell off at Fair Hill) that their saddles are designed to last only 3-4 years, I went with Stackhouse.

    So, even if I thought the Voltaire saddles were awesome (and I've never seen or sat in one so I have no opinion on the matter), if Eric is the rep, I'd run fast in the opposite direction.


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  18. #38
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    Oct. 26, 2001
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    I wanted to bump this up because I'm going to try to test ride an Elkton at VAHTs this weekend. Does anyone out there have one? How much are they custom?

    As much as I love my Albion Kontact, it wasn't made to fit my horse, so I feel out of balance and like I'm fighting with it all the time, so I'm reluctantly starting saddle shopping.
    Lindsay

    Check out my blog at http://lindsayberreth.com



  19. #39
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    Jan. 19, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fergs View Post
    So, even if I thought the Voltaire saddles were awesome (and I've never seen or sat in one so I have no opinion on the matter), if Eric is the rep, I'd run fast in the opposite direction.
    My understanding is he is not the rep anymore. Voltaires are nice saddles though. I know several who have them and love theirs. I also have two...and I have Stackhouse saddles as well. They are very different but both nice.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; May. 20, 2013 at 03:15 PM.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  20. #40
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    Apr. 9, 2007
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    What years were the "bad" voltaires?



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