Yes. you can have them reflocked..but I'm in agreement with your friend. Not worth it for that saddle as you are describing it. Better to invest in a better saddle. Did she check that it fits the horse well??
"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"
Honestly, if you find that the saddle is really comfortable and you like it....you might be better off reflocking it. It is not easy getting newer saddles broken in to the point that they are extremely comfortable.
...So I went down to a little local tack store with his owner and picked myself up a saddle my butt fits in (as opposed to her western saddle), for $130. That's why I took an actual western rider with me, because I didn't want to buy a cheap saddle and find out it has, say, a broken tree or something because I dont know anything about western saddles...
$130 is a cheap western saddle
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."
We actually took hers with us so we could find one similar to fit him. So no, it hasn't been tried on him yet, but she felt confident enough that it'll fit him that she let me buy it. If it doesn't... I just ride English I guess and sell it again.
With a lot of elbow grease the saddle itself is looking pretty good, now just to figure out if there's anything I can do about how icky the seat looks...
It's good to know they can be re flocked... Should I ever be really and truly converted to western riding.
If the saddle fits both of you, get it checked thoroughly at a saddle repair shop. It could be a diamond in the rough, a new fleece, new strings and a great saddle....or it could have sharp points on the tree, broken tree that you can't see or tell from looking or just poor enough quality you don't want it on your horse.
I bought what I thought was a great buy off of Ebay on a Circle Y arab tree saddle that ended up having the tree broken in three places. The leather looked great, but that saddle must have been rolled over on by a horse.
I have a 40+ year old saddle I got new when I was a kid, I had it refleeced about 15 years ago and its still in great shape.
As long as the saddle is in good shape (tree isn't broken, points not coming through, etc), and it properly fits the horse, the fleece condition isn't anything to worry about (as long as that isn't rubbed off unevenly, etc) and in fact the fleecing probably isn't really even necessary this day and age; it just adds more bulk since the leather-saving sweat wicking is taken care of by a good saddle pad.
Get yourself a good contoured 3/4 to 1 inch thick wool felt pad to use -- those usually run for about as much as you spent on the saddle, but are very much worth it!
Eh I'm not having much faith in this being a saddle worth re-fleecing.
You might be able to hunt a good deal on an English saddle, western saddles are birds of a different feather. You're not familiar with them by your own admittance. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you'll scrub off all the grime and find out it's a Billy Cook. I dunno though, call me a skeptic.
Who is the maker? Check the latigo keeper and fenders for a stamp. If it's very lightweight, if it's not got a maker's stamp on it's likely junk.
$130 for a western saddle from a tack shop does not sound promising. You can get a good deal on the cheap by scouring classifieds and barn sales but from shops that want to maximize their profit it's highly unlikely. A good name brand saddle sold used in a shop will be cleaned up and priced according to what it's worth.
The el cheapo saddles, not even worth cleaning up before the shop puts them on the floor, even if they are usable and the tree is good won't last you long. Poor quality materials and workmanship abounds in cheap western saddles. Even if it checks out now you're going to have to be on alert as you use it for signs the tree is starting warp, hardware starting to give, skirting coming loose etc.
Fitting western saddles isn't so easy as "well it looks like the one that does fit so it's all good". Pay close attention to the height of the swell, the width of the gullet and how the saddle rests on the back when you try to use it. Check the how close the swell is to the withers after mounting too, sometimes it may look like the saddle kind of fits but when the weight of a rider is added it can be a whole other story. Also remember you don't have the benefit of being able to see everything you can with an English saddle while checking fit, you've got all that skirting that can hide issues from an uneducated eye. Work the horse on a long line without a rider to a sweat and check the sweat patterns where the saddle rests before riding in it. Dry spots where the bars make contact will indicate pressure areas from the saddle making it a no-go.
Another thing you need to do is check the fleece for protruding objects. As one English rider I know making the big switch-a-roo just found out the hard way, those cheap western saddles often have the fleece stapled on and those staples can work their way out, rubbing NASTY sores on the back. Over 1k in vet bills later she's now investing in a saddle that is good quality.
Good luck with your saddle, hope it does turn out to be a diamond in the rough. Post the maker for us, perhaps we can give you a little insight as to what you actually bought.