Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Its great that you want to get a horse for your daughter. I got my first horse when I was 11 years old, and I could walk, trot, canter and very low jumps, so I was probably at a similar stage to your daughter. My instructor came out and test rode my horse which was invaluable because my mother knew absolutely nothing about horses. I ended up getting this absolutely beautiful palomino which was pretty much every 11 year olds dream horse.
Be aware of the responsibility involved, because really neither me or my mother quite grasped it when we bought my first horse. Throughout winter a horse will often need to be visited twice a day, to be fed and rugged. If he is kept in a situation where you can't leave him with feed, you may have to wait 1 - 2 hours while he eats in addition to whatever riding time. Children should not be left to ride unsupervised so be prepared to wait around for 2 - 3 hours everyday while your child rides. When your child has school camps, or lots of schoolwork, be prepared to come out and care for the horse on your own. If you cannot commit this amount of time you should will have to pay someone else to do it, but the time may come when you are the only one available to do this work - and the buck stops with you as the parent/owner. It is a living breathing animal that is your responsibility and regardless of what a 12 year old says or promises, you must bare the final responsibility.
It was hard for us to find our first horse. We looked into leasing but horses suitable for an intermediate child rider were quite rare. So we decided to buy my parents had a $500 price range but once we went to look at a few horses we realised that was not remotely enough for a safe horse. My advice is to have at least $2500 - $4000 budgeted for your horse and start up costs (it depends on the cost of horses in your area, some places you can pick up horses cheap, others are significantly more expensive). Expect to spend at least $1000 - $1500 on tack and gear, ie. saddle, bridle, rugs. If you end up spending less then you have a little left over for the future.
Be cautious of younger horses and Thoroughbreds, while there are some good ones around many of them are unsuitable for an inexperienced horse owner and young girl. Look into a slightly older horse (10 - 17) that has "been there and done that", because of their age you can pick them up slightly cheaper than their experience and training is actually worth. You will make a loss if you ever need to sell on, but it is the rare horse owner that actually profits out of a horse ever. Look into a horse with some basic training, I presume your daughter rides english, so look for something with a little dressage training, a little jumping training, so that the horse can help to teach your daughter. You may find a trail horse quiet enough but its worth spending a bit more on a trained horse that your daughter can easily learn on and from.
Even if your daughter is quite small, I'd look at a horse around 14 - 15hh. A horse this height, even if your daughter outgrows it, should still be rideable by most adults. Many people seem to make a mistake of buying a small pony for their child, but it is then quickly outgrown and difficult to exercise and near impossible to compete on. 14 - 15hh is also a good height to manage and pretty much one of the easiest to find equipment, both new and second hand, for.
If the horse has experience, a bit of training then I don't think you need a particular breed at all. There is nothing wrong with "mix-breeds" in the horse world, although they are likely to cost less and be worth less in the long run. I was told the cheapest part of the horse is buying it, and its true. Listen to your trainer, be patient and listen to advice.