A few tips for barrels itself: Don't let your horse fight you in the chute. My horse never did it, but in a lot of competitions I went to, horses would get to the entrance gate and dance ALL THE WAY down it. Go to Youtube and look up barrel racing competitions, and you'll see what I mean. I rode at a barrel barn and our arena had a chute, and after a while, every time my horse and I would go INTO the chute, he would try bolting out of it like he was going to do a barrel pattern, even if the barrels weren't set up. I've seen horses throw riders because of it. Try setting up a couple of jumps and begin the course IN the chute. Another thing is if you begin a barrel pattern at a trot or a walk, when you come around the last barrel, DO NOT let your horse bolt for the exit. That creates bad habits at the bottom of the arena.
If you're not practicing, someone, somewhere is, and when you meet him, he will win.