Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Remember all saddles don't fit all horses. So your first question should be, what saddles are likely to fit my horse reasonably well? Then your second should be, what saddle will fit me reasonably well? After that...well then you choose based on availability and price.
Online can be a great place to get bargains, and there are some people who find great gear there, but I personally would not buy an online saddle I had never sat in before, or with no brilliant return policy. You just don't know how it will fit you or your horse.
After a while you'll probably get a feel for what will fit your horse, and you'll be able to go to tack places and make a reasonable guess as to what will fit, and what will be adjustable enough, at this stage though, I'd recommend you get a professional saddle fitter out, or have a saddle you can try first, whether it be borrowing a friends and buying the same brand, or having a saddle out on a one day trial.
As mentioned here, Wintec saddles are rather popular. They're not the greatest saddle around, but they're generally pretty okay, and probably the best new saddle in that price range. The quality is okay, fit is okay and position is okay. They fit a range of horses with normal backs and are quite affordable. I have a Wintec dressage saddle and it's not the best saddle, but its been great for me. I've had it for 10 years and used on 10+ different horses. It's not the best saddle, and if I ever started competing seriously I'd get another, but its great for just messing about.
At this stage though, you might look at buying a second hand saddle, but again be cautious, if you google it there is heaps of information online.
Bridles, well whatever you like, they vary in quality but they should all work. Girths, up to you really, I tend to just use synthetic (and they vary in quality), but if that doesn't work for you look at alternatives.