I've been kind of shopping around for another western saddle. I didn't think it would be all that difficult to find something because I didn't think I was all that fussy. But, it turns out that I am that fussy.
My biggest sticking point seems to be leather type and quality. I want soft, flexible leather. I hate stiff leather and inflexible fenders. Now, I know that I'm not going to find, nor do I want, a western saddle in thin, baby soft leather. But still, so much of what I've seen just feels so thick and stiff.
I'm not looking for a custom saddle and I don't want a heavy-duty working saddle. Just something for trail riding and local showing. Price is flexible - now that I've realized just how picky I am, I know that I'm not likely to find any bargain brands that suit, but still, I'd like to be as frugal as possible. Used is fine, if I can find one that suits, although thus far, I have found used saddles to be mostly ill-kept and over-priced.
Anybody have any suggestions on brands that you have found have softer, more flexible leather? And I do want leather, not synthetic.
I highly, highly recommend buying a USED saddle. Someone else has already done the hard part--breaking it in! Even the highest quality new saddles tend to be a bit stiff, and then fenders haven't been turned yet.
Cowdog has a good selection. I've bought and sold a few through Pards' (btw, not all the used saddles make it online so you'd be best to call). Tack trader always has a lot of nice saddles to choose from. Also, posters on the pleasure horse forum frequently sell high-end equipment.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Unfortunately, the new saddle plan is going on the backburner. I'm getting a new heating/AC system installed today. You all might be able to hear my Visa card (and me) crying later on this afternoon.
For when you can start looking, look used. I have a Champion Turf saddle that I love, and have ridden in a Crates that was very nice- I'd say the leather on mine is a little stiffer than the leather on the crates, but it is a few years older. You can find a nice crates on ebay for not too much. Because I only have enough $$$ and room for one western saddle I ended up getting a show saddle without too much silver, so it works for shows but isnt too flashy for trail riding.
Sorry about your unexpected expense.
When you find you can afford a saddle you should check out horsesaddleshop.com. They have a huge selection. I would reccommend the Fabtron Cross Trail. It's light weight, made in the USA, and the leather is soft and substantial. It's also light weight. I found one, very slightly used, on Ebay. It's fairly new so finding a used one might take some patience. If mine doesn't work out it will be for sale!