Everyone has really good advice. I bought my horse in 2011 and had never owned before then. I was lucky. I bought a horse with a good disposition that put up with my mistakes.
I'm also fortunate to have a well paying career and disposable income available.
Here is what I learned.
1. On New Years Eve, 20 minutes before you and your husband are meant to leave for dinner reservations, your horse will decide to charge his fence and will be running wild in someone else's field.
2. Right after you buy new tack and wipe out your "horse savings account" your horse will colic and need weekend emergency attendance from a vet.
3. On the coldest, wettest, most miserable day of the year when you swear you are running a fever, you will need to go to the barn to chip the water in the horse's bucket.
4. On the day when you only have 15 minutes to provide a worming and get to your next appointment, that is the day your horse will decide to play tag and not allow you to catch him on 30 acres.
5. The day you are scheduled to leave for a trail ride, your horse will throw a shoe and you will have to call a farrier and wait for a new shoe before you can load up the trailer and leave.
I hope you are laughing, but it's true. My husband is quite miffed, I spend much more time caring for my horse than I do my dogs, cats, or our house (and of course he includes himself in that rant.) The dogs and cats seem really easy to care for compared to a horse. I can't board at our house, so I also have the time / distance / fuel to drive to the barn to check on the horse. That has to be included into the equation of horse ownership.
I love horse ownership. I wouldn't give it up for the world right now. But it eats up time, money, and your attention to others.
I would wager to say, that for the most part, the people on this forum need their horse as much as their horse relies on them. It's not about ownership, it's a zen thing. Their horse speaks to their spirit and their soul. It is a part of you and it is a hunger in you.
Only you will know if a horse means that to you. If it does, sooner or later, you and the horse will come together. It took me 47 years to realize my dream.
You will know it's time to buy a horse when you don't feel the need to ask if you should, you just do it.
Now, as to your question regarding breed and age. Dunno. Depends what you want to do. Horses are not quite like dogs, where some are better retrievers or others make great guardians. Some breeds have specific traits, there are tons of horse encyclopedias that will describe the innate characteristics and body types, such as weight and height.
Learn more about riding, talk to other horse owners. Ask them why they chose their horse and what do they like about the breed.
Depending on where you are located, there may be a market for horse leasing. You pay a monthly fee to have access to someone else's horse for riding. It is expected that you participate in any grooming needs. This is a great way to learn how much work a horse requires without the added stress of ownership.
That was so awesome....like poetry. Very nice AQHSam.
Many people think that because horses are huge, strong animals...that they are not delicate. The opposite is actually true.....they are very sensitive mentally and physically. And when they injure themselves, it can require a very expensive vet and a lot of required attention for them to heal. They also do these things at the most inopportune time like AQHSam mentioned above. One of my horses coliced and I spent several hours walking her, in the cold rain and then slept in a sleeping bag, on a bale of hay, next to a campfire over night so I could keep checking on her.
These examples are not to detour horse ownership, just to set the tone for reality with horses. These realities are something people never really think of before owning a horse.
And it's true, there is more to ownership....those crazy horse people who don't just 'own' a horse....the horse is a huge part in their lives. I have fallen into this category....I could not imagine my life without them. It's zen, spiritual......I don't know. It pains me to think of the day, when it comes, that my girls will no longer be with me. My daily schedule often revolves around them. The plans I make for my free time, often involves them....and when it doesn't, I worry. Owning a horse and visiting periodically is not an option to me.
So, this is where you have to really think....if you have big plans to go to college etc.....then leasing a horse would be a wonderful option for the time being. That's how I started. And during that time, other people who leased horses came and went. It seems you either catch the horse bug and it becomes your life, or you realize that it is too much and not for you.