Society of Master Saddlers Registered Saddler & Saddle Fitter
A repair which is delayed can often cost a lot more in the end. Don't do it tomorrow if you can do it today!
It's not a good idea to wait for something to break then to have it repaired, or for something to drop off before you have the stitching replaced; you, or someone else might have suffered an injury by then. Much better to have your saddle maintained properly and to prevent breakages.
Girth straps are the most common items which will need replacing on a saddle. Look out for the tell-tale signs of wear on the underside of the straps, elongated buckle holes, splitting and cracking or the straps stretching and getting thinner.
It's true what they say "a stitch in time saves nine". The rider's legs rub away on the stitching which attaches the knee grip to the saddle flap, the stitching gets thinner and eventually gives way. The knee grip starts to come away from the rest of the saddle flap, usually from the bottom and works its way up. If it isn't caught and restitched soon enough it can separate from the flap almost completely. It is easier to stitch the knee grip before this happens and it costs a lot less than reattaching the entire knee grip.
A "squeaky" saddle could be a sign of something serious happening; a broken gullet plate, loose head/gullet plate rivets. These are elements around a "broken tree". This is serious because the saddle can spread and press down on the horse's wither causing pain and injury. This can be repaired.
Many saddles have seats which have worn through, the leather splits where the seat is seamed onto the skirts. Often the split is bridged by stitching across it but this leaves a ridge on the seat which can rub your leg in a sensitive area! It is possible to fit a new seat to the saddle which will add years more to the life of the saddle; this is a real asset when you have a horse which is not easy to fit and a saddle which you find really comfortable.