There is much to consider when purchasing saddles. What you choose depends on what type of disciplines you and your horse enjoy. Do you compete in jumping, endurance, dressage, side saddle, or all purpose riding such as trail riding? Do you ride gaited horses with a park seat, flat seat or saddle seat in the English style? How is your horse's conformation? Does your horse have a large barrel or high withers? Is your horse thin? Does the saddle roll and slip because your horse has withers that are not prominent? What is your figure or physique? Let's take a look at the different type of saddles and examine the differences. Having an understanding of why a fine used saddle has specific features will help in the selection.
The way the dressage saddles are made allows the rider to sit a deeper seat. By sitting a deeper seat the rider is able to have closer contact with the horse. This places the rider in an upright position. Subtle cues can be given to the horse because the rider's leg is closer to the horse's body. This action can be done with precision and happens with little notice by on-lookers. A good dressage performance should look effortless.
Jumping saddles generally have a slightly forward tilt that allows the rider to get into the jump position more readily. The seat is shallow for the same reason. The shorter stirrups and flaps allow the rider to change position from forward seat to balance seat. It facilitates an easier transition. The knee rolls give the rider a bit more stability. Jumping is quite dangerous even under the best of circumstances. It is best to have every possible safety advantage possible.
All-purpose saddles are just how they are billed--that is, you can use them for an array of purposes. They can be used for jumping, dressage, or trailing or pleasure riding. Saddles are expensive. Of course, if you are into a specific discipline and showing it is best to have the correct type saddle for what you are doing.