My two cents worth: You get what you pay for most times.
I worked at a salebarn for several years and stood in the ring and ran the gate at a bunch of horse sales there. The traders would stand down there and I got a real good education. To paraphrase Soapweed, in another post, no feet no horse.
If a cute little gal is riding the horse thru', look out! They want you to watch her instead of the horse.
When I was working at the salebarn and seen a neighbor in the seats, I'd go up and visit and point out all the horse traders and who they should stay away from and sure as heck, they'd buy a horse from one of those guys! 'Cauz he was pretty! Horsetraders know how to market their horses. Thats how they stay in business.
I have a horse that Faster Horses was going to look at at the stock show, but she got busy and didn't get to look at him. He ain't cheap, but he's gaurentee'd any way you want. Go price a 4 wheeler and then come tell me my horse costs too much. Figure out what it costs to get a fool proof, bomb proof, sound, aged gelding and then tell me what he'd cost me if you owned him and we can have some business.
Our horses never get a hard ride until they are at least five years old, so they last a lot longer. I don't raise horses to sell or trade, but to use.
And Soapweed is right, horsesales are as addictive as this dang place!
We don't ride mares as we trailer and work with a lot of neighbors and geldings seem to get along better, tho' I think mares are like studs, they might be more bother, but they will give you more also.
Worse problem today with horses is that most people don't ride enough to make a horse or keep one rode down who needs it. Most people don't use horses like they used too.
OK, I quit. Good luck with buying a "broke" horse!