When evaluating a jumper from a hunter or vice versa, what is the main thing you use to evaluate, via their jumping form, whether they should be a jumper or a hunter? I know jumpers have to be tighter with their knees and legs, but how tight?
"One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"
Kind of hard without pictures but...Hunters have a specific jump shape judges look for, very round from nose to tail. They usually like to leave a gap to the base, keep the upper forearm at least parallel to the ground and together with the leg below the knee sort of reaching instead of curled under (hard to explain) Overall Hunters have to have a real, fluid movement-like oil on water. Looks real pretty but not the most efficient way to get over a series of jumps-or comfortable/easy to stay with over the top...back in the day they liked them a little flatter, not so crack back. But that desired shape cannot be taught, it's a function of their conformational angles.
Jumpers are not style based but the better ones have almost as high a knee as the Hunters, just sort of tuck the lower leg under more instead of reaching out (hence the belly guards on the girths) and most of them like to leave deep and jump up hard instead of leave a gap and float.
Both of them need to show they are brave early on, even stepping over poles. Both also have to not want to touch the rails by nature and be careful about where they put their feet-that translates into being what we call "looky" (and some others would call spooky). Most everything else can be taught but they need the angles and careful attitude.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Slowness. Hunters have to have a natural tendency to be slow in the air and pause off the ground. A jumper you want to be quicker off the ground. Often you can "hear" it more than see it; a hunter is softer both taking off and landing. You can train it either way to a degree, but that is a main factor in determining natural inclination.
It also depends on the level you are thinking for. If you are talking about 3'6'' or derby horse (or pony hunters), then yes what Findeight said.
For the 3ft childrens/adult hunters suitability is going to count as well. A nice jump and an overall nice look around a course is going to do more than a back cracking jump the rider can barely stay on for. In the jumpers there is no suitability.
A hot, forward horse is going to be more suited for the jumper ring regardless of jumping style. But in the 3ft, a slow relaxed ride with an average jump could do quite well in the hunters in certain company.
Generally, you want to see a rounder jump out of a hunter, using their neck and having their knees above parallel with the ground. It's also about speed, or lack there of.
I've seen many beautiful jumping jumpers that just are a little too quick to be competitive in the hunter ring. Also, a flatter jumper is sometimes beneficial because of the decreased hang time and "saving" energy and time.
Jumpers don't just tuck their legs up. They must have the ability to reach with their front legs--their shoulders rotate back bringing the elbow forward increasing their "reach" forward. They also have the ability to hike their hindquarters up and out of the way.
It is a different kind of jump than a hunter. It is a different conformation.