Okay. So, I've been talking to a few separate people individually, but I just have so many questions running through my mind that I'd rather let anyone who might know something help me out.
I'm looking for an Aussie saddle. A black one, to fit my extra wide backed horse. My main issue is this - and please don't be offended by it! But I am a western rider to the bone. I honestly don't care for the look of an English saddle. I think they look silly. (DO NOT take this the wrong way! I very much respect English riders. It's just not my thing). And a lot of the Aussie saddles look a lot like English saddles (I understand the reasoning behind it). I would ride one that has the more English look, but NOT for the cost that I'm looking at here.
Now, I did find one that I love. This first one, the Muster Master (I would get it in black).
Aussie Leather Saddles
It has the Aussie seat and poleys, but it's got some skirting in back, and the western leg leathers that I really like. It's got enough 'western flair' to it that I would be willing to spend the money on it. And it's got all kinds of rings to attach stuff to in the back for trails.
I don't mind this next kind so much, but I don't care for the look of it tons. I wouldn't mind it but I don't want to spend that kind of money on a saddle unless I love it. It does have a nice amount of rings in back.
Down Under Legend
Mu only issue with the first saddle is it's made by Australian Stock Saddle company. I have not read very good things about them. They get their saddles made in India with Aussie materials, and I've heard bad things about their customer service. If I'm going to be spending 1300 on a saddle (The very top side of my budget) then I want to know it's going to last, and that I'm going to be able to contact the company should I have any issues. I've read average reviews on the Muster Master - some people seem to be really really happy and some people absolutely hate the quality or it breaks and they can't get in contact with the company, etc.
Does anyone here have experience with ASSC? I know DownUnder is a better brand (And Syd Hill better yet but I can't afford that). I'm just looking for advice here, I guess. I know it might seem stupid to refuse a good saddle based on looks, but if you're making a big purchase like this you want to be absolutely happy with it, right?
So. What do you recommend? I love the first one. I would pay for it. But the company who makes it gives me second thoughts. Is there another company that is more reputable that makes one like it? Or a place I can get one custom made to resemble the first one? What is your experience with different Aussie companies? I hear ASSC is based out of California.... I wish I lived there, I'd just go in!
I've heard of halfbreed saddles, but can't find a ton of info about them. I wouldn't be doing anything super crazy with it immediately - maybe a while down the road, but right now for trails and general work. I'd like to train her Western Pleasure style (Would an Aussie saddle inhibit this?). The three major brands I hear about are the ASSC, DownUnder, and Syd Hill - and I can't really find any others like the first one I posted. (And with no saddle horn!) I am looking for leather, not synthetic. I just don't have the knowledge that I need! I feel like I've googled near everything I can think of, but without knowledge of brands or companies or really anything it gets hard to sort through what's junk and what could potentially help me out.
My budget is being stretched with the first saddle. It's expensive, and I'll have to cut some current expenses out to be able to afford it. I can do that, but I don't want to go much higher.
Thanks for any help you can offer!