My 7 year old paint gelding, Scout, is super layed back and easy going, but he is clearly bored and needs a job. I know how to jump (Went to camp and took lessons), and I was hoping to get some advice on training him to show jump. I would never compete with him, so he doesn't have to be perfect, just safe. We have a few delimas, the number one being that he's only ever been ridden western. He's also not very tall at 15.1 hands. I don't really know how much height matters in the long run, but I wouldn't take him over anything bigger then 2.5 feet. Please help me!
Height really doesn't matter. I rode a 14.1 Morgan horse and we competed 2' and schooled about 2'3" or 2'6". She could free jump (no rider) up to 4'.
Secondly, you will want to get him used to balancing under an English saddle. When he can do that, walk, then trot, then canter over poles. Not just a pole, do courses of poles, grids, bounces, related distances, etc. after about one or two months of pole work, bump things up to 6"-12" and repeat. Move up slowly at first, especially as your horse learns to find the distance to a fence.
Height isn't a big deal. A 15.1 horse should have no problem jumping.
I take it you are planning to teach him english then?
In my opinion you can still use your western bridle you just need a saddle, saddle pad, stirrup irons and leathers. You could probably get all this stuff used for around $200. Assuming you just want starter stuff and not a $3000 saddle.
First things first...get him started english and get lunging over jumps.
First start lunging him in the new saddle before you ride in it then basically work from the basics up.
Also once he is comfortable with jumping on a lunge try jumping him on a lunge with your english saddle on him.
Just some tidbits =)
Good luck! Jumping is a blast!