Just saying I have not seen a good horse GIVEN away. (sound and healthy)
And I dont know if why, if you are broke and need money, why you would want to give a GOOD horse away. I am saying "I would not"
Also I spent the last 2 years looking at horses for people that looking at horses that where being given away.
Not completely sure why you are going to starving a horse.
Also this entire thing came up around a beginner rider and first time horse owner.
Horses are to be fun!
One of my best friends got a good, freebie horse - registered TWH mare, less than ten years old, wonderful gaits and fabulous temperament.
The previous owner was a young woman with three kids, who bought the mare to fulfill her "lifelong dream" of owning a horse, with absolutely no idea of how much is actually involved in keeping a horse. Fortunately she boarded the mare, rather than trying to keep it at home, so the horse got the worming, vaccinations, farrier work, and other basic upkeep that the owner hadn't planned on.
She found that she didn't even have time to ride due to family obligations, and allowed my friend to "borrow" the horse for trail rides, just so the horse would get some exercise or attention.
Eventually, the owner realized she simply did not have the time or money to maintain the horse and wanted "out" of the deal. Rather than take the time to market and sell the mare, she offered the horse to my friend (tack and all) because she knew my friend would take good care of the horse.
No, this kind of thing doesn't happen often - but it does happen. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, and know the right people.
As for the OP, you've already been given excellent advice with regards to finding a suitable horse. The points about getting a PPE and having an experienced horse person come with you are especially important for a person who is a first-time buyer and/or novice rider. If possible have someone who knows YOUR riding ability (like your instructor) come with you to see the horse, and to watch you ride.