FSH (and OP)- I actually agree with a lot of what you said, the hunters CAN be a good stepping stone for a green rider or green horse to get into the jump ring. Things like pace control, distances, straightness, striding, balance/leads, are things hunters value most. If these things are already ingrained in your riding it will give you an advantage in the jumper ring. So OP, I imagine that's why What i disagree with is the quote below... I think there are A LOT of reasons why people should compete at 2"6 courses, just as others on here have mentioned. I think it's ridiculous to move up if or your horse aren't ready. For a lot of people 2"6 is difficult and there's nothing wrong with that.
I feel that little shows like handy hunter at 2'6 with 8 fences in a course with wide slow turns is just not something someone should stay in to compete at.
I agree with amymarie, most HUS horses are very automatic....and boring IMO. Its not for me, the slow trotting around the ring as pretty as can be and then jumping low fences in perfect form from a barely moving canter on a horse that already knows the course because its done it a million times.
You know we aren't talking about HUS, right? There is a difference between breed show HUS stuff (where they do go super slow) and Hunters at H/J shows. You do NOT want a slow trot and cantering a course too slow will deduct just as many points as going too fast. (the goal is to be on the optimum pace for your horse and the course) I believe the judges are looking for what they call a "bright" (meaning forward) pace, just not one that is so fast it looks dangerous.
But there are higher hunter classes, I think theyre more common overseas however, also.
Just FYI, they don't really have hunters overseas. They have higher level hunters at RATED shows. In fact, one of the more popular and growing divisions is the 4"6 performance hunters. I will roll my eyes at any person who thinks hunters at this level is "simple" or "easy".
To the OP again.. you mentioned your horse has a big stride and round jump? That's EXACTLY what a hunter judge is looking for! Regardless of size of horse. But... you also mentioned he wasn't a good mover? That will hurt you in the hack. :) I recently showed a horse in the Pre-Greens all last year that moved like a cart horse but had a spectacular jump, giant stride, and was really flashy to look at. Judges seemed to forget his movement wasn't ideal. While we didn't usually ribbon in the hack (in fact I usually scratched if it was a big class) he did quite well over fences.