Disposition of a horse or mule is everything. Look for that even in a colt. Keep looking, Riley. You might find a good deal out there. Have somebody with experience help you pick one out.
Years ago, I was not making much money, but my daughter wanted a horse bad. We bought a weaning colt. I know that isn't what you are supposed to do, but the price was right. We kept it in the back yard. I think that was against the rules for the town we lived in, but it was a small town in Eastern Montana, and nobody complained. That colt spent most of his time playing with our Black Lab. They'd even sleep together on the ground, at times. When the dog would fetch a stick, the colt would run around with the dog. My daughter had that colt tamed down in no time. When it was two, we put a saddle on it, and it didn't do much. Before long my daughter was riding it all over town. Since we only had one horse, I'd follow in our car.
The thing that colt had going for it, was the right disposition. Things worked out great, and nobody got hurt. I wouldn't try the same thing on some colt that is high strung. Horses are dangerous, and a young one can hurt you quick.
I raised all my horses and mules from colts. Yep, I've been bucked off of some of them, and had a run away or three. At my age, I just can't risk that. I had a guy ride one of my colts for thirty days. It wasn't money well spent, because the guy was a greenhorn. You want to find the right guy to do that. Some of them charge big bucks. I've been around horses all my life, but I learned a lot, just watching RFD TV on the boob tube.
I would advise you to have a smaller corral, that is well built, to start riding a green horse in. Run-aways are no fun. I think there are some horse people up Dry Gulch, that might give you a hand with all this. Give me a call, and I can give you my two cents worth of advice.....An older horse would be smart to buy, if you can find a good one.
One of the horses we raised from a colt is now about 25. He's stiff and sore, and I don't think I can trust him anymore. So, if you hear of an extra good horse let me know. I'm looking for another one too..... I should sell that old horse. I heard they still have a canner market in Canada. I couldn't do that, though. That old horse is part of the family.....