This is a most interesting thread - I do agree that it is very important to know what kind of horse you are looking for, and I think the most important thing is that the chemistry between human and horse is good. I think a lot of horses work well with one person, but with the next one they are totally different, especially the strong and independent horses, and I think this is often underestimated - it hurts my soul to think about how often horses have to change ownership and their whole life is turned upside down - new human, new stable, new mates, new food, new care. And they are totally depending on us - if they are lucky things are good and the stay good, but if not, they might end up miserable and used. Strangely enough there is quite a fashin in buying and selling your horse, because it has become too small, too fat, too lazy, too boring, too ugly, too expensive, too hard to handle or whatever, or simply because we need excitement and it is always exciting to start up with a new one, end perhaps we will then do better in the next show....do you know what I am talking about??? I think we should think much more about the horses in this 'game', and we should make sure that the horse is really fitting before we buy (just as the original post suggests) and I personally think we ought to go into the human-horse relation like into a marriage - admitted, it can be cancelled, but not just for fun. It is no fun for the horse - it is its life!!! And we should also teach our children that taking care of living beings means commitment, until they are dead or we really can ensure that they are cared for by others (that also counts for all other animals - including the ones we want to eat finally).
Personally I was very fortunate, because my last horse I bred on a mare I had owned for many years (they are both long gone :(). And the foal - a he - turned out to fit perfectly to me - he was a pure Pilgrim and it suited my personality wonderfully - but perhaps he also partly developed into a Pilgrim because he was with me since he was born - who knows - I think that might be possible to some extend. Surely I did a lot of mistakes during his life and it was not allways working, but I was lucky enough to come accross the books (and a course) with Klaus Hempfling before I had messed him up too much.
Actually the book 'What horses reval' by Hempfling was very helpful exactly in finding out what kind of horse he really was and in which way I could approach him best. One of my friends even had some Horseprofiles done by 'the master himself' when she wanted to buy a horse - she got really good advice and ended up finding her true soul-mate :). Unfortunately I think KFH doesn't do these horseprofiles anymore, because they are really good - but if we are lucky soon his new teachers will be ready to do things like that! At least if possible I will have that done when I start looking for a new horse for myself some day - or try by myself with the book if I can figure out, though it is admittedly not so easy since some horses have 2 or more characters in them.