Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: In Sunny, HOT and HUMID S.C.
Depends on what you call a fortune. With the exception of a treeless saddle I use only for training (teaching them to accept a saddle and get use being saddled and the extra weight on their back while under 4 yo) I have my saddles made to my horses measurements.
Also take into account how much you ride. If you only ride a few miles a week then a saddle that is close to the correct size (gullet, bar width and length) for your horse should be ok. Just make sure it's never to narrow. A little wide you can pad up, but narrow is only going to give your horse a sore back and likely end up not wanting to be saddled or ridden.
That being said, I'm may not be the best person to recommend saddles, because I look at saddles for usually riding over 25 miles a day on multiple days. That's why I have them made. For me a $750 - $1,000 custom made Trooper is reasonable. My horse won't have down time recovering from a sore back after riding 100 miles and it will outlast the horse, so figure I get my money's worth out of it.
But....if you do a lot of riding, I recommend a Trooper that fits your horse. Allows better airflow along the back than other saddle styles. The seat is slightly suspended above the back so never any pressure on the spine. Weight is well displaced over a wide area along the back. Some makers still use bronze or brass for the pommel and cantle portion of the frame which attaches to the wood bars. That allows them to adjust the size if needed (horses backs can change over time) providing they offer that service (they might not).