Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Synthetics are cheaper than leather when new, but there are some really good second hand leather saddles out there. If you do decide to go and splurge on a new leather saddle at any point, and are getting an AP or dressage, I'd suggest you go black as they have a significantly higher resale value than browns. Conversely, if you're going for a second hand leather saddle, you can generally get much better bang for your buck with a brown one because they're not really in fashion. My brown leather Passier (good quality, good enough to use in lower level comps) would have been $2500+ new, I bought it for $500, which was around half the price of a good new synthetic.
I've found the points on synthetics to often be of poor quality. Leather has more give in it and is more supple (but in saying that, it will stretch). Synthetics generally don't need the TLC that leather saddles do, and they're handy if you want to do beach riding. They're generally lighter than leather saddles as well.
As other posters have said, I'd get an all purpose if I were you, til you work out what discipline you want to focus on (if indeed you want to focus at all!). They're generally cheaper than jump and dressage saddles anyway. Just steer well clear of the budget ones, I've heard of them breaking during a ride. Oh, and remember to budget in stirrup irons, leathers and a girth, as they generally don't come with the saddle (again, I'd not be keen on those "starter package" ones...).