I'm neck-deep in my great saddle hunt, and I would love some opinions!
A few things to keep in mind: I live in the middle of western riding country, so we don't have a local saddle fitter. Our best local tack shop has a few decent saddles, but most are consignment (not a great selection) or Kincade/Camelot (I refuse). For the reasons above, I'm doing much of my research online and trying saddles on my horse wherever I can find them.
My horse: 16.3hh OTTB, flat and relatively short-backed, high withers, somewhat of a narrow build but with those giant TB shoulders.
I went to Dover Saddlery yesterday just to look around (the nearest one is about four hours away), and I was able to talk to the girls in the store and get some ideas of what brands might be good and what brands I need to stay away from. My current saddle, a Bates Elevation, doesn't fit my horse well. There's not enough wither clearance, and just in general it's a somewhat awkward fit.
Because Bates won't work, I've pretty much ruled out Collegiate since to my knowledge they're all built on the same tree (please correct me if I'm wrong). I also don't have a high budget, so the $2400 Pessoa they wanted me to buy is unfortunately out as well.
However, I kind of fell in love with the Toulouse Premia. It was a gorgeous saddle, near the top of my price range, but it could be doable (as could most Toulouse saddles). They seemed to think it was a possibility. Then while poking around online last night I checked out Beval--they had some reasonably-priced saddles, and I was particularly looking at the Stamford 2012.
I've read some very good reviews about Toulouse and lower-end Beval saddles online, and I've also read some VERY poor reviews about both. However, I trust Horse Forum people, so I figured I'd get your opinions about these as well.
Also, for the record: A used saddle isn't out of the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, I'm wary about used for two reasons: I have a hard-to-fit horse and I've seen a lot of used that can't be returned if they're not a good fit, and let's face it: I haven't found a used saddle yet that makes me drool in my price range.