Now that you have had the opportunity to focus on the type of horse you would like to purchase, and what you are looking to do with your horse, let's speak about where you can go for certain types of horses.
Where to look for horses:
Beyond the regular websites you can do an internet search of horses for sale I will focus this on the non-breed specific buyer. Here are my favorite places to recommend finding horses for sale:
Sale & Rental Farms Specifically the ones who lease out summer camp and lesson program horses. These places can sometimes have lease & lease with option to buy horses. If you are looking for a horse at the end of the summer, you can find many wonderful horses and ponies that are being returned to sale barns from summer camps . Many of these sale farms have horses which you can do a short term (usually 3 month) lease with a pre-arranged sale price should you decide to buy the horse at the end of the rental/lease agreement. If they have a summer camp horse who is requested by the same camp year after year, they may allow a private party the opportunity to do a 'winter lease' for the non-camp months of the year. Note, you will have to return the horse in time for it to go to the camp the following spring. You can find camp/lesson horses with all different breeds and backgrounds. From gaited, to jumpers, dressage and breed specific horses.
Trail Ride/Camping on Horseback Businesses: If you are in a location with seasonal equine businesses like I am, there are many trail businesses who sells off part of their herd at the end of peak season or before they close for winter. Depending on the size of the business and how rugged the terrain is on the trails you may find an amazing trail horse for sale in the fall season. There is one place I send people looking for real trail horses, because their trail horses have experience going out into rivers and traversing rocky & uneven terrain. I even met someone who had her horse shipped from Hawaii to Massachusetts because she fell head over heels for him when she went on vacation to Hawaii and trail rode him every day of her 2 week vacation.
Your Farrier & Vet: For those of you who already own your own horse and may be looking to add to your herd, speak to your farrier and vet about horses they may know are available for sale or a lease with option to buy. People tell their farrier and vet that their horses are for sale and it's always a good idea to ask.
Local Horse Associations: You can find horses that may be for sale by word of mouth, through local clubs (like 4H and Pony Club) and Associations (State Trail Riders Association, State Breed Associations, etc).
Where You Currently Ride: The farm you take lessons at may have suitable horses for you to purchase. Some even offer lease with option to buy for a set period (usually 1 - 2 months).
Part 3 will walk you through avoiding some hard lessons when buying a horse.