It is disheartening, as saddle maker and one who also repairs saddles, to look at saddles that have been abused and not cared for by the owners. A saddle in poor repair can lead to a serious accident and even to a fatal accident.
A saddle must fit well on your horse, for your horse to perform at his fullest. The saddle must also fit the rider properly. There are many factors to look at when fitting a saddle to your horse; these factors are for a later discussion.
When purchasing a saddle for your horse, first look at the construction of the saddle, especially if it is a used saddle. Secondly, will this saddle fit your horse? Thirdly, will the saddle fit you? If unsure about the saddle fitting your horse; ask if you could take the saddle home, so you can check the fit on your horse, with a custom made saddle you will not be able to do this. When the above questions are satisfied; then look at the color, glitter, fancy lacing and silver looking hardware.
When you bring the saddle home, store the saddle in a well ventilated room, out of direct sun light and off the ground, critters like to chew on leather. Leather exposed to the sun will darken and even burn. Do not store your saddle in a damp area either!
Take care of the saddle, clean the saddle on a regular schedule, especially after heavy use, like a long trail ride or roping event. The tack stores sell many products for maintaining your saddle. A well maintained saddle makes for an enjoyable and safe ride.