I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Pandora saddles yet. They're within the OP's budget, and have moveable panels to fit a variety of horses, and are arguably the lightest saddles out there. Are they not good for someone just getting into endurance? I'm moving more toward long trail rides/endurance myself and have been looking at them Ö are there negatives that I'm not seeing? The seat is hard, but from the sound of things very comfortable thanks to the shape, especially with sheepskin I'd think. I ride in a hardseat western saddle and I love it, it's so comfy for me even on long rides (though the fenders tend to torque my ankles after about hour 3). Of course having never ridden in a Pandora I could be way off the mark lol
I'm really curious about Pandora saddles but most of what I've read of them was from the testimonials page on their own site and a blog post that didn't give much information because the rider was only trying it out and didn't end up getting it, though they didn't say anything bad about it. I just haven't found any reviews of it not directly linked to the company or discussions on forums or anything on them. They totally seem the sort of thing where you either really love it or you hate it since it's so different from most other saddles saddles. Though considering OP just is interested in the apparent comfort of most endurance saddles and not in actually doing endurance from what I understand I'm not sure if checking out a Pandora would fit the bill. I mean they're very much something only someone who is very invested in endurance would likely want considering how they look and all. I mean it's very...VERY different from any traditional saddle.
rides in a Pandora...with a thinline seat cushion on top.
My Abetta (Wide tree) is well padded but doesn't fit my horse. Too wide for him. It is comfortable, if a bit slippery. I prefer with a sheepskin seat.
I have an older Big Horse endurance that is Very comfortable, but it is a medium tree so doesn't fit my horses.
Will such a tall horse, it is better to have a more lightweight saddle
Personally I ride in a treeless Barfoot Tahoe, but understand why you are wanting to avoid treeless.
Lots of sources for biothane tack, which is wonderful stuff and holds up such a long time! I have mostly Zilco, but have used some other brands too and mix and match. Berlin tack and Two Horse tack make theirs, some custom sizes available.
Riding warehouse has a lot of endurance gear, but not a huge selection of saddles. I have bought a lot from them. Also Distance Depot has a nice selection.
Horse Saddle Shop has the largest selection of saddles of many types that I have ever seen, and you can call and talk to them personally.