Old Dominion Saddlery sells quality preowned saddles from fine French saddlers such as Butet, Voltaire, Devoucoux, Antares, CWD, Delgrange, and others, as well as Tad Coffins. A saddle stamped, “Made in France”, carries the distinction that every detail of its design and construction has been carefully considered. The French theory and ultimate goal is to achieve a perfect fit for both horse and rider. Lightweight and balanced, French saddlery products are recognized worldwide as using only the finest leathers and workmanship to ensure the close contact feel, optimum freedom and maximum comfort.
In 2000, Antares was established in Saintes, France, with the goal of creating both luxurious and high technology saddles. Five professionals within the horse world came together: Xavier Lenrouilly, Thierry Guiberteau, Eric Guiberteau, Evelyne Cummings, and Dominique Bauer and decided to share their ideas and expertise to create products that more closely resembled their personal philosophies.
Driven by performance and the search for excellence, Antares conducted research with world-recognized equine health professionals and partnered with international riders (World Champions and Olympians), in all equestrian disciplines to create the Antares line up. The Antares team has created the DTA50 panels (which distribute weight evenly over the back) as well as the first memory foam panels (D3D).
Antares has several models, with the base Antares model, the Contact, the Connexion, and the Evolution being quite popular. Antares offers a wide array of custom flap sizes and shapes, as well as seat and twist widths (E, L and XL, narrowest to widest), and seat depths, to fit every leg length and shape of rider, as well as offering different panel thickness (M10, M15 and M20) to accommodate different width horses. Antares also offers a standard medium wide tree as well as 2 wider trees, the AO1 an AO2. Additional foam can be added to, or taken away from the panelling to offer a more tailored fit. Unlike other French brands where all the information is stamped on the sweat flap, Antares stamps its tree and any custom panel designations (to the standard M10/M15/M20) on the billet guard.
Butet fans truly love their Butets! Butets tend to be narrower through the twist that other saddles and offer a very close feel, however, because the older Butets run slightly narrower they tend not to fit horses with very large shoulders or those with a convex area behind the shoulder. They do tend to fit normal to narrower shouldered horses, thoroughbreds and French bred horses very well. Butets comes in whole sizes only, with standard or forward flaps (designated as .5), various flap lengths (0 being short, 1 standard, 2 long, and 3 extra long), and flat (P) or deeper (L) seats. The deep seat Butet is about equivalent to a half-deep in CWD or Devoucoux. Butets frequently vary in seat size by 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from the stamped size so always determine the actual seat size - both desired and in the saddle you are considering.
Newer Butets tend to be comparable to the other French brands, and like the rest, panels can be custom fit when the saddle is ordered new and this is stamped on the sweat flap.
Butet now offers the Premium, which is a full calf saddle, and designed to compete with other French brands who offer full calf saddles.
Extremely popular, CWD Saddles are favored by riders such as Scott Brash, McLain Ward, Kent Farrington and Kelley Farmer. They come in several models, seat depths, flap lengths 1 through 5, and standard (L) or forward (C) flaps. The tree is a standard medium-wide, and various panel configurations can be used to change the fit. The leather may be grain (most durable), calf (soft and grippy but still with excellent durability) or buffalo (the softest and most grippy). New, the price points in CWD increase with the calf and buffalo options. Most CWDs also have an integrated panel which offers a refined close contact for the rider. Another nice feature frequently found is the RT designation. This indicated the front panels under the scapula have been contoured to allow greater freedom through the scapula. CWDs feature a 3 point girthing system, wide panels that are concave and integrated for a better pressure distribution of the saddle along the horse's back, and a higher cut sweat flap to reduce bulk under the riders leg. They come in a lighter brown and a darker mahogany color.
If you are trying to decode the CWD stamp (on saddles newer than 2006), the first line indicates the seat type, seat size, flap length and style. The second line indicates the panelling, while the third line is the year of manufacture and serial number.
A note about CWD flaps. Compared to other French brands, CWD has the least amount of variety in flap shape and therefore flap forwardness. The L flap tends to have a longer oval shape while the C flap has a more circular shape in the front of the flap. When compared to Antares, Butet, Voltaire and Devoucoux, the forwardness in the C flap is higher on the flap (so the flap is wider on the upper half of the flap vs the center of the flap or the lower portion of the flap). This tends to suit riders who ride with a shorter stirrup or who are proportionately long from ankle to knee.
CWDS also tend to have the shortest billets. Many people find they need to go up at least one, if not 2, girth sizes to accommodate the shorter billets.
Another luxury french saddle brand, Devoucoux are also quite popular on the hunter/jumper circuit with the Biarritz, Oldara and Socoa models being the most popular with hunter/jumper riders. While all are designed to satisfy the rider’s need for balance and precise contact during daily jumping and flat work the Biarritz and Oldara have a wider and deeper seat than the Socoa, and tend to be a bit more "saddle". The Socoa is a jumping saddle with a flatter seat and narrower twist to enable the rider to shift his center of gravity easily giving great freedom of movement and enabling the rider to shift his center of gravity easily. Its sporty, clean line makes it a favorite with top riders. Devoucoux recently (2016) redid their saddle lineup, and now all jumping saddles are called the Biarritz with letter designations indicating the different models, such as the O, the S, and the LAB.
Devoucouxs come in whole and half seat sizes and flap lengths 0 through 5. Grain/calf, full calf, and buffalo leather are all options. Devoucoux has 4 "grades" of forwardness, with D being the straightest, no letter associated with the flap length being standard, A being forward and AA being very forward. Other nice Devoucoux features are the R designation - this indicates the flap behind the riders leg has been contoured, to allow the rear block to be positioned farther back, useful for riders who feel they "run into" the rear block - and the "B" designation, indicating a flap with more forwardness on the bottom of the knee roll area, which is terrific for riders who are long hip to knee.
There are 2 trees - the standard medium wide "arcade normale" and the wider tree, the "arcade ouvert".
Riders who are looking for "soft and sticky" (especially in the seat) should absolutely try a Devoucoux Biarritz or Oldara!
One of the original French saddle makers, fine materials, stringent requirements and technical mastery have been the hallmark of Bruno Delgrange’s quality since 1976. The Delgrange brand trains its own master saddlers and still makes all their saddles in their own workshops in France. One of the most popular Delgrange saddle for many years was the PJ series (including the PJ Original, PJ Light, and PJ Pro/Partition models). However, more recent PJs (since about 2009) are no longer made by Delgrange, so it is important to differentiate between the products, as a newer "PJ" saddle is no longer a Delgrange.
Delgranges come in whole and half sizes from 16" through 18 1/2 and flap lengths 2 through 6. When shopping for a Delgrange, remember that flap numbers work differently than on the other French brands. For example a 4 Delgrange flap could be equivalent to a 2 in a CWD or Antares. Delgrange saddles frequently have cut away flaps to allow for closer contact with the calf, very squishy knee rolls, and tend to ride with a slightly narrower twist. The Athena model has a flatter seat, the Partition model is a semi deep seat and the Virtuose model has a deeper seat, however all feature the exquisite workmanship and detailing that is the hallmark of Delgrange.
Luc Childeric has been making saddles since 1991. His range is an established favourite throughout Europe and America. The Childeric is built with the key design principles of balance, contact and freedom of the horse, helping you adopt a correct, balanced but not restricted position. It allows you to move as little as possible whilst your horse moves as much as possible, achieving harmony between the rider and the horse.
The Childeric is only available new through Running Fox tack shop in Canada, so they are not as common in the USA as some other French brands, but the same high quality and attention to detail and design can be expected from your used Childeric. Feel wise, they are quite similar to a Butet but with a wider seat, and tend to have a wider tree and will fit flatter backed or wider shouldered horses well.
The Voltaire saddles are a wider and half deep-seated saddle with an innovative "second skin design" to improve rider position and ensure a high level of comfort. The wider tree accommodates most warmbloods and wider bodied horses, while the second skin flap design ensures close contact with the horse. While narrower, high withered horses can be accommodated with fuller panels in a custom Voltaire, when shopping used saddles make sure the paneling will be appropriate for your horse. The Voltaire is also one of the lighter (in weight) french brands, and comes in a dark chocolate color.
Voltaires are available in the Palm Beach (half deep seat), the Stuttgart (deeper jumping seat) and Calgary (flatter seat) models. Flaps come in standard, A, AA and AAA and can also be ordered in with a B designation indicating more forwardness in the bottom third of the flap.
Panels come in 4 thicknesses and can also be modified in different areas (as can all custom French saddles). Voltaire saddles have 2 moveable and replaceable billets. They feature two billets with three rings to which the billets attach (simply loop over and through), allowing you to choose (and swap at any time) where you want those billets placed to enhance your saddle fit without the bulk of the traditional third billet. This also means that if you ever need new billets, you can just order them and loop them on without seeing a saddler!!!
The only non French brand of saddle carried by Old Dominion Saddlery, Tad Coffins are very popular among some of the nations leading hunter riders, and its reputation for improving the performance of both horse and rider is well established. The Tad Coffin A5 and A5G2 models gives the rider an unprecedented feel of closeness and features a flatter seat, while the TC2 has a semi deep seat and narrower twist in comparision. Newer Tads feature the "Smartride" trees which allow for some tree flexion to allow the saddle to follow the motion of the horse. Tad Coffins tend to have a wider twist and flatter seat than most of the French saddles.