So yes, while I agree with your point that there is a lot of pomp and circumstance and beauty pageant in the Jr equitation world, the system has been working for over 30 years in producing top riders who go on to win the biggest classes and medals.
Also I once watched a documentery on H&C tv about some American Major Equitation Championship show (apparently very hard to qualify for and people from all over the US spent loads on horses and getting there). I was horrified at the riding, the horses whilst very sweet were pootling along all pokey nosed, the jumps involved probably maxed out at 2ft 6, no one sat down in the canter (bums waving in the air as someone said earlier) standing martigales on everything . I wanted to shake them and tell them to actualy RIDE the horses not just sit there and attempt to look pretty.
Show pony classes over here everything Should be working as though it were about to go in the dressage arena, most open show horses could do a decent Elementary test and even the novice ponies can go out and be competative at Prelim and novice classes (Reeco could go out and do a prelim tommorow if needs be, I'd be a bit dubious about a novice class at the moment but I don't think we would disgrace ourselves entirely. Working hunter classes (so showing with the added element of looking stylish over jumps) 14hh ponies jump 2ft 9 - 3ft 3 depending on type. 15hh WHP is 3ft6!