So recently I have started riding in a friend's western saddle and love it! So now I want my own. Unfortunately, here in Australia western saddles aren't so common and can be rather pricey. I've checked out the saddleries in my area and they only stock about two brands, and I don't feel that they suit me and my purposes very much.
My friend is offering the saddle I am using for sale for about $500 which I think is about the going rate. It's a non-brand saddle with just a stamped number and a saddler who has looked at it has estimated it's about 30 years old and guessed it would have been hand made by some saddler back then. The problem is that while it's useable now, I feel that I'd want some work done on it. The buckles (two prong) on the stirrup leather are rusted and pretty fused. I've spoken to a saddler and it would cost approximately $200 or a bit more to get new stirrup leathers. The rest of it is useable but the seat is getting really worn, and worn especially thin near the edges of the "neck" part. I spoke to the saddler and he does not think it would be worth reseating. I spoke to my friend and they just recommended I buy a new saddle. He also expressed concerns that because of it's age he'd be worried about it standing up to anything vigorous.
So I guess I am asking a few questions. What do you think about the saddle I am using now?
If I were to buy a new saddle, are there any places (in Australia or elsewhere) that I can buy a saddle from online? My budget isn't so big (maybe up to $700 from an international store, $1000 from Australia), so I'd probably prefer to get a second hand saddle around here... but they're just uncommon.
What is the going rate for just an all round western saddle? What are the good or just decent brands, and which are the ones to watch out for?
Also, I'm looking for as short a skirt as possible, and brands that cater to that?
Thanks for any info!