Join Date: May 2012
Location: Chicagoland area, IL
I've shown/lessoned/trained in hunters/equitation, showjumping, and eventing for as long as I can remember with a great many trainers on a great many horses, so this is what I have gathered from my personal experiences (sorry if this offends anyone).......
Personally, I think to LEARN on you need to start in the hunter/equitation world. Hunt/Equ courses are much easier to memorize and navigate, and are typically very inviting for the horse. Horses that specialize in hunt/equ are also generally (but not always) quieter. It is a good introduction to jumping, and will give you a decent foundation.
However, I am a hardcore diehard Show Jumper/Eventer for a reason! ;) I like SJ/Ev because the courses are much more creative and require far more respect/trust between horse & rider. The speed gives an amazing adrenaline rush that you just don't get after an equ course. And also, because they are strictly judged on performance and NOT presentation, you don't have to worry about the judge being bias towards certain breeds/clothing/etc. which is something that unfortunately happens in hunter/equ shows all the time (in my area, at least). If you go clear and do the best job, you WILL get that ribbon, even if your horse is the ugliest crossbred moose-horse on the face of the planet.
The downfall of SJ.... it IS a much more dangerous category of jumpers, due to sharper turns, purposely uneven lines/combinations, and far more intimidating jumps. Many sound horses go lame in a matter of seasons IF you don't take proper care of them and ride the fences correctly. Also, the horses tend to be much more fiery and hot under saddle. (Personally, I prefer hot horses, but for a beginner jumper as yourself, clearly not the smartest option.)
So what I'm trying to say is, for a beginner, at least start off on equ/hunter TYPE horses & courses until you are confident & can jump quiet horses & simple courses safely. When you're abilities allow you, I personally would highly recommend SJ, but I understand it's definitely not for everyone.