OK, here is my Aussie-style saddle:
Why do I like it?
1 - It fits my horse. My Arabian mare has a pretty short back. My western Circle Y Arabian saddle is 26.5" long, and sits far enough back that it puts pressure on her loins. Not a lot, and she will tolerate it, but she moves much more willingly at speed if the saddle is shorter. I would LIKE to use a western saddle, but finding one that would fit her is tough. And the folks who make Aussie-style saddles will custom fit the saddle for your horse.
Notice I said "Australian style". The real, made in Australia saddles start at about $3000. I paid $750 for mine. After 2 years of use, it is better than when I bought it.
2 - I have the option of using a Wintec pad under the saddle. I normally do not...switched to using a folded wool pony pad under the front. But all my horses ride well with a Wintec pad. In fact, with our mustang pony, we use one under our Abetta western saddle. The original Abetta saddle is short enough (22-23 inches long) and I've thought about buying one for Mia.
3 - When the horse hits the fan, I want all the help I can get. I really like riding in my Bates english saddle, but Mia is still a work in progress. The stereotypes of an Arabian mare? She's an advertisement for them. We're currently working on going solo into the desert. She is vastly better than she once was. A year ago, going solo on a lead line for 100 yards was all she could do without melting down. We're now going 1-1.5 miles out, then returning. So progress.
But she still jumps sideways. She hasn't done any big bolts, but she has 'bolted' for 30-50 yards, without warning. She sometimes does the "OMG Crouch" from a trot.
And everywhere I ride, there are large rocks and cactus. Even with a helmet, if I come off, the injury would probably be big. Breaking my back would be possible, and being tossed into a cholla cactus possible:
I find the Australian style saddle the most secure I've ridden in. When your horse spins around, the poleys (mickey mouse ears) in the front slam into your thighs and spin your hips around. It is a lot easier to stay in the saddle if your hips stay aligned with the saddle! If the horse bolts, you can support your thighs with the poleys and put your hands down low and PULL. I'm 180 lbs, and I CAN out muscle her if I need to.
A little while ago, I had her canter in front of Trooper. The sound of Trooper cantering behind her set her off, and we galloped down the dirt path. That was ok for a while, but there is a 90 deg bend at the end, with cactus beyond. She wasn't interested in my input, so I braced and used a pulley stop. She stopped. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFt-yJhVZg8
A better rider might look down on wanting help from the saddle. I'm not a better rider, and I'm 54, and rocks hurt and cactus would hurt so I want help!
4 - Forward seat. I like riding with a long leg. I don't jump. But my horses move better with a forward seat than a traditional seat. I like the western style of riding, but my horse moves faster, farther and happier with a forward seat. I can't handle a 3 hour ride in a forward seat, but it is OK to compromise for long rides.
I switch to a forward seat for speed even in a western saddle, but I tend to fight the saddle.
In my never ending quest for the perfect saddle & tack, I'm tempted by this saddle:
It is made by the same folks who made mine, but it is smaller and lighter with shorter flaps. It is a mono-flap design...don't know if I would like or dislike that part:
As always though, there is no perfect tack or saddle. But there are saddles that meet a person or horse's needs better than others. The Australian-style saddle does a lot of good things for me & my horse.
Note - they don't really put your heels under you, which is fine by me. I prefer my heels to be at my belt buckle, which is what the British cavalry called for in the 1800s. The picture is about 3 years old, but I tend to have my legs like this - notice the western stirrups
It gives me the option of easily shifting forward: