I don't ride english and never have really(once or twice), but I can say that a lot of western riders and trainers do seem to look down at their horse. (I am not excluding myself!) Matter of fact when flipping through last months issue of Western Horseman there was an article with a well known trainer. Looking at the pictures of him riding- the first thing I thought was, "look up!"
When I get really dialed in and concentrating I have the tendency to look down. I know I should be feeling instead of looking, but I guess I have to verify what I am feeling?
Maybe another thing to consider is how the distance is to be looking ahead? I was always told 1/4 of a circle ahead on the circles and past the fence when stopping on a reiner.(and watching the cow, not the horse for cow work) Maybe the distance is farther for jumping?
I DON'T LEAD 'EM AND FEED 'EM, I RIDE 'EM AND SLIDE 'EM.