Yes you are correct, the list of attributes is more of a "well this breed tends to have these attributes" and then its finding an individual of that breed or a similar breed that matches what you want.
I am biased, of course, but if you'll be looking for a good, all around horse for pleasure riding, the stock breeds (Paint/QH/Appy) are generally very stable, smart, willing horses with good dispositions that can do just about anything. They also tend to be low maintenance, easy keepers (which saves you a bunch of $$s).
I am interested for sure on getting an adult horse that is pretty much already trained and broke (is that the word?) unless its easy to do so.
An old, wise, horse person once told me that horses don't get brains until they are 10 years old
We've bought a couple great 3 year old 'greenies' that you could put children on without a problem, but you can't beat our finished, seasoned, penning lead mare (who is now 16 years old) for being able to do anything and go anywhere without ever fussing.
I know this may be a dumb question, but when you go to purchase a horse do you get to ride the horse? I think that's one of my biggest things, is being comfy on the horse.
Yes, and insist on riding at least a few times. I always tell folks to make sure they try the horse in the same environment that you plan to ride. Horses all act different in the arena, on the trail, in a group, and out alone. You can never be 100% sure, but walk away from any seller that doesn't give you the opportunity to feel comfortable about your decision no matter how much you like the horse.