Vega are exceptionally well made saddles. I drool over these saddles! Exceptionally well made, beautiful leather, and if I could afford one, I would get one.
French Made Saddles are very nice. Antares saddles are very well made as well.
I've always like Stubbens, Rembrandts, Marcelle Toulouse - and now a new line that Stubben has come out with, the Philipe Fontaine. Harry Dabbs origionals are very nice as well.
I dislike Bates, I dislike Pessoa's, and I really dislike HDR's very much.
I just saw that SmartPak is carrying the Antares line of "stuff" I about died when I saw the prices. Their saddles were all around 5000, a helmet from them was 600, and the bridles were all around 400. It's insane!
I drool over the Vega saddles too, they look sooo comfortable. Another brand that I use to drool over were the Jaguar (as in the car) brand of saddles, Dover use to carry them, but I haven't seen them in a while so not sure if they are still being made. Really cool saddle though.
I would love to get a Rembrant someday. The owner of the horse that I am leasing lets me use her Rembrant dressage saddle and that saddle is sooo comfortable, really just cradles the rider.
I have never really cared for stubbens, I do love their off brand, the CTD, but every "real" stubben that I have sat in or ridden in has been hard as a rock and since the only place I lack cushion is my butt it was not a fun ride.
Anyway, I know there are certainly some saddles that are better than others, a lot of the best saddles seem to be german made, but I also agree that once you get to the top levels unless you are being sponsored by a certain saddle company a lot of those saddles are custom made for horse and rider.