And she is telling people with a little riding horse would be kid safe. IF your kid is a cross between gorilla and octopus.
Firstly, trying to imagine this made me laugh hysterically
I own a Quarter Horse mare that is in her 20's. When I try to take her on a relaxing trail ride, she gets all nervous when we get a few feet from the barn.
back to the subject at hand, it sound like the mare is barn sour and not listening. Many horses ride well into their 30's, so in most cased 20 isn't really that old. I would think about fixing the issue with the mare instead of just retiring her, but not knowing the whole situation, I can't say for sure.
Any suggestions on how to know if a horse is right for me?
1)evaluate your skills and experience level realistically. Ideally have someone knowledgeable evaluate you honestly. LOTS of people that are inexperienced(and some that are experienced) don't do this. You absolutely need an honest evaluation of your needs and skills in order to be matched up with the right horse.
2)Pick one that can do what you want. The list idea above is essential. If you want a broke horse that is quiet and beginner friendly, don't even consider a green, young, flashy or hot horse, no matter how much you 'love' them, or the owner tries to convince you. Love doesn't make a relationship work, compatibility on various levels does.
3) TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU. Can't stress this enough. That you trust and will listen to, and that is knowledgeable. A person like this can be essential if you fall in love with a horse that is wrong for you, they can pull you back down to earth.
4)don't rush, ever.
5)be reasonable. Yes you want to be thorough, but be respectful to sellers as well. I have had people do incredibly disrespectful things to me(when selling) trying to 'discover' what I've been hiding. I hide nothing. Ever. So it comes across as incredibly annoying when a buyer shows up an hour early when I'm in the middle of something, insults my horse to get a lower price, or talks about the other horse they are going to buy if I don't give them a deal. I have purposefully not sold to people who were disrespectful. At the same time, protect your own interests, and follow your intuition. If something smells fishy, or the buyer says things that clearly contradict the original add, run for the hills and don't look back.
look at the other thread posted, it has a ton of good advice.