Excellent advice here for you, Lea, and my version of it is pretty much the same.
Just to give you a ball park figure, I just bought a horse in February. Granted, he was out of state and our winter here forced me to board him so I chose to keep him where he was til I could get him up here. He is home in my yard now (YAY!!, LOVING him!!) and to date, because of board, farrier, chiropractics, massage (he is slightly contracted in front and pulling his shoes resulted in very short feet, sore body), vet for Coggins and Spring Shots and finally his continued training (baby: he is only 8), I have so far spent close to $10K (inc price of horse). The cost can vary significantly but minimal care will cost: period. Whether one boards, or home keeps, there is NO free ride. YOU are the responsible party as well as advocate for YOUR horse, no matter where he is, no matter who is doing the care/management and regardless of cost. When you own a Pone, you OWN it ALL.
After only a few months of lessons, there has been not enough time yet to introduce one to the nuances and tribulations of horse ownership and the finances that support it. My suggestion for the OP would be to continue with lessons for a full year, then lease. Reason being, the more you ride, the more you learn. Hang around the barn, offer to do a few chores, get familiar with the CARE/MANAGEMENT end of horsemanship. Riding is a very small SMALL part of that big picture.
I know this might not be what you want to hear, but in the long run, with more time spent in the general company of horses, you will better know what you want and don’t want in a horse and be better versed in recognizing it, what your limits are financially as well as at what skill level, what you actually want to do in the future with Pone. They are not used cars, they don’t sell the same way. Buying/taking on a horse is more comparable to adopting a child. Take it THAT seriously, be THAT ready before you buy. IF you decide to lease this summer, know the lessor, be SURE to understand ALL points in the contract, be SURE that there IS a contract. Protect yourself, and your charge.
I hope you will continue with your lessons, on the horse as well as in the barn. I have been riding for over 55 years and am currently looking for an instructour for myself and my lovely new boy : ) The learning never stops!
Welcome to the world of Horses, Lea, and to the Forum! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do : D
Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.