Thank you, Ocala and upnover, for bringing up an issue I've wanted to post on for months.
When I rode and trained hunters, my goals for a well-schooled hunter were two clear speeds at the walk, 3 clear speeds at the trot, and at least 3 clear speeds of the canter, 5 being better. I also did simple lateral work, including leg-yield and shoulder in, turns on the front end and a modified turn on the haunches. I expected the horse to hold a correct bend primarily off my inside leg. I didn't call this dressage, I called it flatwork. I did this work in what Litteaur called "connected" rather than "collected", worrying about the horse working back to front and using their backs and not at all about whether their heads were vertical, and I rode with a huntery passive following contact, rather than the more active, stronger dressage contact.
Making a distinction between dressage and flatwork may seem like nitpicking; but the distinction to me is clear - the goal of dressage is developing collection and the collected gaits, the goal of flatwork is simply a supple, responsive horse. There is no need for a hunter to ever be ridden in true collection.
It's an unfortunate fad right now for hunters to show in something like a training level frame. (Previously, any kind of frame was penalized. In the 80s, I wrote 'overflexed' and 'false frame' on a lot of cards, as did a lot of other judges.) The intent of encouraging a frame in the hunters was to encourage more educated riding; and to distinguish the truly well-schooled horses from the ones on autopilot. What it created instead was a lot of horses with their heads cranked onto the vertical.
So, Ocala, if you don't want to do "dressage," or ask your horse to work in a frame, that's absolutely fine. You can have a well-schooled, responsive horse and solve all the problems posed by upnover, above, by what I call flatwork instead.
Sadly, however, in a hunter flat class, a horse that does travel in a frame, false or otherwise, may pin above you depending on the judge.