I also did a must have list....
No more than 15.1 hh so I could mount without aids
No crazy horses
No buck, rear, run away nutballs
No more than 14 years
Lots of trail miles
Absolutely had to be barefoot and have great feet
I did try a little Missouri Fox Trotter mare - she didn't pass the feet inspection with my farrier at the time so she was returned.
What I got was:
10 year old 15.1 hh gelding that had miles and miles on trails with everything for kids to people who had never rode before. He wasn't crazy but had been harshly handled by a trainer. Nice hoof walls but his feet had been neglected his entire life and just lopped off a few times a year. He was under weight and due to harsh treatment was often terrified. He wouldn't run or kick...he would just stand frozen.
With love and attention and great nutrition, he has gone from this IMG_0160.jpg IMG_2446.jpg
They don't have to be perfect when you get them if they have the right stuff. A little training, handling and nutrition can make a world of difference! That is a fairly nice picture of Biscuit the week that I got him. His back swooped away from his backbone and he was delicate looking under saddle. Now he is a big strapping boy. A young lady that had rode him once before and wasn't happy about it because she said he was ugly and lazy couldn't believe that he was the same horse! She said "he is beautiful!!! What did you do to him" She was shocked!!