The best advice you can follow when looking for a horse is “Do Not Go Looking On Your Own!” That’s especially true if you are a novice. The world of horse trading is complex and, sadly, often filled with shady characters. Even seasoned horse people have tales of being taken for a ride – and not on the back of a fine steed.
In addition to sale barns, auctions, and private sales, consider legitimate rescues. Those usually be 501(c)3 charities. They will usually have a history of the horse, his medical situation, and will have spent time on evaluating him for what kind of riding or use is best.
The United Horse Coalition is an effort by many equine-related associations, industries, and individuals working to find homes for horses as risk or in transition. It also maintains a data base of resources for owners facing difficulties in providing best care for their horses. (www.unitedhorsecoalition.org)
Dovetailing with that, The Right Horse: Good People for Good Horses works to place horses in rescues with good homes. (www.therighthorse.org). If you want to browse through listings of horses available, check out the companion site: (www.myrighthorse.org) There’s also a FB page: The Right Horse.