Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Its up to each individual to decide what is necessary. I would not compromise on temperament no matter how nice the horse. Most horses of most breeds should be able to do basic dressage and jumping.
When I go horse shopping I write what I want on paper so I know what I am looking for. I'd write ideal age, height, colour etc but these are the things I would be somewhat flexible on.
For a first horse I would look for something with a good reliable temperament, experience in general riding and hopefully in what you want to do and of course physically sound, and over all safe. I would not compromise on any of these points, and even now the only thing I would compromise on is their ridden experience. If you have enough money you can get all this, and the height, age and colour you want, but when you start imposing limitations, such as price, then obviously you have to grow more flexible.
You can get many horses in their mid-late teens that would be suitable for usually a very decent price. I guess it depends what you are looking for. Just keep looking at all horses you come across, network with people, horse people all know everything about each other. Contact the local clubs or stables and ask if they know of anything. The best horses usually pass hands without advertising.
Just wait, you'll know when you find the right horse. Follow your gut. And it can be really helpful getting advice on here, for critiques and such, but still get a vet check pre-purchase, and try and get a friend or trainer to give a second, unbiased eye and opinion.