Fortunately, with the horse market the way it is, there are lots of nice horses in and around your budget, depending on what area you live in. UNfortunately, you have to weed through the ones who are that cheap for a reason. Here is my opinion for first-time buyers, beginners, or anyone that doesn't have a lot of experience with horses or owning:
> Don't settle. Just because you've seen 10 horses that aren't perfect, don't go back and pick one up just to be done with your search. I guarantee you will regret this decision.
> Don't buy young, barely broke, or unbroke. Also, don't buy 'needs more miles with experienced rider,' 'needs some work,' or 'great project!' - UNLESS you have professional help. Professional, not your neighbour down the road that trained one horse in his youth some hundreds of years ago.
> Do buy older, been-there-done-that mounts. They are more reliable and you will have more fun with them. Green mounts are fun for some riders, but not the vast majority of people. They are scary as hell if you don't know what you're doing.
> DO take a trainer or someone with a lot of horse experience, OR weed down your list to a few possibilities, THEN take the trainer along to help make your decision. They will be able to pick apart the horse, and see if the seller is being truthful.
> DO get a vet check. No matter if you spend $50 or $5000, a vet check covers your butt. Don't use the seller's vet.
> Do know the horse's history.
Now down to my nitty-gritty: Horses' skeletons aren't done growing at 2 years of age. They are rushed into training ASAP because 'time is money' and who wants to feed a horse for another year to start them at 3? That's the main reason some horses are started at 2. Another reason is that they are smaller, so 'less scary' to some people. In my opinion, unless you're showing in the big leagues which pretty well require the horse to be started under saddle that early- and don't even get me started on that whole thing!- steer clear.
What you and your hubby want is something that's well broke and is safe for the entire family. That is going to be hard to find in your budget. Not impossible, but hard. And it's going to take longer. You do not want something green with 60 days' training on it. Even if the horse is a sweetheart, it doesn't have enough miles under its cinch to be a beginner's horse, it needs finishing, and at 2, that's impossible.