Is what I am looking for reasonable?
I am thinking of buying a horse in the next 3-6 months and I'd appreciate thoughts or advice based your experience with buying, or helping others buy, horses. It's a rather long winded post....
I am a beginner rider of average ability but I am comfortable with horses on the ground. I had a horse and rode as a teenager. I started taking 2-4 lessons a week in November after 25 years away. I am definitely improving, but I am also realizing how little I know.
My riding goals are focused on profiency at 3 gaits and capable of trail riding alone or in groups. I could envision going to a couple of fun/local/schooling shows and maybe jumping at some point. I know I want to ride english and think eventing looks neat but probably a stretch from athletic/age standpoint. Either way, I would only want to compete for fun, but I want to be good. I rode saddleseat as a teenager, and now I take lessons from a dressage instructor. Pretty sure I am not actually doing dressage.
I would like a horse between 15-17 hands and with strong (not fine) bones. I am 5'7", 170 trying to get back to 155 so big enough to carry me comfortably and without looking funny. I would like the horse to have a distinct, ideally funny personality and like people. Not spooky but not lazy, and be fit enough to ride 4-7 hours a week. Reasonable conformation, good health. No dangerous vices, good stable manners. Nothing green, well trained or close to it, with a kind disposition. Cute would be a plus.
Breeds I think about are full or part Morgans, Saddlebreds, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and I think draft horses look neat but I know nothing about them. I have a soft spot for animals in trouble and I would love to adopt; however, I have no experience with abused horses and would not want to be in over my head.
I can't really see myself spending over 8K unless I was absolutely crazy about the horse. In my current job, I can afford training board but I would like to be working toward 2X a week lessons within 6 months. Weekly lessons in a year. I am financially stable, but not wealthy.
Does all of this come in one horse and how hard is it to find? How and where should I look? What age should I look for? Do you rely on your instructor to help you? If yes, do you pay them or give them a gift? Who helped you make the decision? How long should you ride before buying?