There's a lot of misinformation and half truths in this thread and I don't have time to address them all.
In most US hunter classes, a rail down, or a tick or a rub, will be penalized as a *form* fault - if the horse hits the fence, it is presumed to not have jumped in good form. It is not penalized by a set number of faults as in jumpers, but it is penalized - if you look at the judge's card, you will see a notation and a lowered score for that fence.
My "problem" with the hunters, and the reason I moved into other disciplines, is that it is way too difficult and expensive to be competitive in the As and for a mid level rider with an extremely limited budget, it stopped being fun. Eventing and schooling jumpers were much more rewarding for a rider with my resources, but that doesn't change the fact that my hunter background and skills were critical to my success in those new disciplines.
There's a *lot* more to hunters than dressing up and looking pretty; if you're in a hunter barn that stresses that aspect of it, you need to find a different barn.
Finn, no, you can not wear bell boots in the hunter ring. Back shoes but no fronts is an unusual shoeing arrangement, barefoot or fronts only is much more common. Most overreaching problems can be solved or improved by working with your farrier, that's the route I'd suggest you go.