I am gong to try endurance riding this summer so have many questions. My first one is which endurance saddle with a horn would be the best for a budget under $1000? I have been hearing bad things about Trekkers?
I was looking for a trail/endurance saddle with a horn, and have been really happy with my Australian from Down Under Saddlery, the Master Campdraft Deluxe. Light weight, close contact, good quality, and fits well. It is more balanced than most Aussies, it is easy to keep my leg under me, and comfy to post for miles. I'm just tinkering with endurance, training for my first 25 LD, but it had been great for what i've done so far. For serious endurance, you would probably want a more specific endurance saddle without a horn.
I recently bought a Fabtron Cross Trail. it's a cross between english and western, light weight, and has a horn. I rode my first LD in it Sunday and have been training in it all spring. I love it! I highly recommend getting the saddle pad that goes with the saddle.
I want a horn cause that is what I have had my whole life. I even jump with a horn and my mare is young and a little spooky so that is just what I am used to. But I sat in an endurance saddle and wow was it nice.
Pebbles, I learned on Western saddles too and I like the size and comfort of them better than English, plus I like spreading the weight across more area. I have a Tucker Equitation Endurance model, which is built on a Western tree (all Tuckers are) but has just the big pommel without a horn. Most endurance saddles have no horns/big pommels, which is great for security and for tying on pommel packs. Tuckers are all leather (made in US) and weigh a little more than some of the synthetics (mine is 22 lbs) but you cannot beat the comfort. In your budget you'd have to go used but it would be fine to do that - watch the classifieds, they tend to go quick. I do see them in the $800-$1000 range.
Go to tuckersaddles.com and you can see all their models. Mine has English girth (easier than Western) and English saddle leathers (maximum leg movement) but you can also get Western style fixed fenders and a Western or center-fire girth. Plus there are lots of Western style Tuckers with horns, too.
One thing: there are Tuckers called "classics" and Tuckers called "Gen II." What I've heard is that the gel seat on the Gen IIs actually extends down further and some people don't like that because they think they have less feel for the horse. I've always had the classic version and like it but that would be a personal preference for you.
Anyway have a great time getting into distance riding - consider competitive trail as well as endurance so you can always have something on your calendar ;-)
It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.