The build up alone was enough to write home about. A mysterious invitation arrived at about the same time that a vague, intriguing video began to appear on facebook.
“Blue Magic” it promised. “A revolution.” Come to The Breakers on January 20th and all will be revealed.
The Breakers at Palm Beach is not your ordinary venue for, well anything. Its famous twin towers and palm tree-studded grounds regularly host celebrity weddings (Sofia Vergara, anyone?), not equestrian get-togethers. But then again, there has never been an equestrian company quite like Voltaire Design. Founded by a young Frenchman six years ago, this sellier has quickly grown from three people working in a garage to over 70 craftsmen collaborating at a modern workshop.
If you know Voltaire Design, you know that the unique blue stripe pattern on the underside of all Voltaire saddle trees were inspired by the red sole of Louboutin high heels. You know that Voltaire has the unfailing support of American’s leading lady rider Beezie Madden, who became a partner rider almost as soon as the company was started.
So when Brice Goguet, the young Frenchman in question, announced that he would unveil his revolution to a small group of personally invited VIPs at an evening cocktail reception staged at a seaside locale that’s 10 miles and a world away from the winter showgrounds in Wellington, FL, there was no question—even by posh Florida standards this was not to be missed.
Past the famous beachside Breakers pool, at the end of a long walkway under marble arches, a blue-lit reception area beckoned. Drinks were passed and a who’s-who of show jumping riders mingled with a who’s-who of show jumping owners, saddle makers, and one man sporting a feathery pair of white wings. As the room slowly filled, Brice stepped onto a low stage where a glass case stood center stage, mysteriously cloaked in a black silk cloth. He was ready to unveil his revolution.
At that point, the revolution could have been a Voltaire-colored pony, a blue striped boot, or a magical potion to give us an ounce of the entrepreneurial talent that Brice has in his little finger. Not even Beezie knew what was coming.
The Smartest Saddle
With a few tugs, the cloth fell away to reveal the Voltaire Blue Wing saddle. So, not a Voltaire-colored pony, but wait for it, the real kicker was coming. Brice, master of presentation that he is, began by explaining that this brand-new saddle design has a smart tree that was engineered to flex with the horse for shock absorption and a perfect fit. The goal: to provide neurological benefits to the horse. Researchers at the University of California at Davis are are about to run extensive trials to validate those claims.
With its high-tech composite tree, Voltaire Blue Wing is also super-light, the lightest Voltaire saddle ever, according to Brice.
Cue the polite applause. Innovative design is what we have come to expect from Brice and Voltaire. The crowd was almost ready to call it a night, and Brice made as if his speech was coming to a close. “Oh, one more thing,” he said with a French twinkle in his eye. “Blue Wing is the world’s first smart saddle.
“This is the first-ever connected saddle. It can tell you for how long you rode your horse, how much time you spent walking, trotting, cantering. It can tell you the length of your horse’s stride and the course you jumped. If your horse goes more to the left or right, it will track that. It can tell you the speed you went and after you ride the same horse five times, it will recognize your horse immediately.”
Blue Wing gathers and sends data to your smartphone, putting all this information into the rider’s hand, immediately. There were gasps all around as graphics of said data flashed onto a screen. The sport is getting more technical, horse management more detailed, every little facet counts, and really when you think about it, why hasn’t there been a smart saddle until now?
“Now” is actually May 2016, when Blue Wing will be available to the public at a starting price of $6,900. Or for a one-time price of $15,000, you could be one of just ten riders who will be serviced with Blue Wing saddles for life. Or, if you’re Beezie Madden, there is likely a Blue Wing saddle waiting in the barn this morning.
The possibilities are endless, Brice said. Or as we like to call him, iBrice.