I wanted to make a brief little point here, because I have been seeing this as a big issue in my area (Especially my high school equestrian program).
People bitting up barrel horses to so-called "barrel bits" JUST because they are running barrels. There is no rhyme, reason, or functionality to the choice they just see something like say, a wonder bit and think "Hey! Let's put that on my barrel horse and he'll turn so sharp and be so much faster!"
No, no, no. You don't need a long shank single jointed twisted wire gag bit with a noseband. You don't always need a big bit, you don't always need a twisted bit.
Most bits today marketed to barrel racers are a twisted wire. Like these:
All three of those bits are commonly used. This doesn't mean you HAVE to use them, or that they are going to work on every horse. I spent a long time being pressured to bit my horses up to the fad bit of the time, and that is the last thing you want to do. Don't bit up just because you're running barrels.
My colt right now was adding speed before his lay off and still in a snaffle. I will probably take him to jackpots in a snaffle. Snaffles are the number one best bitting tool you can have in your tack room. You get a direct contact with your horse's mouth, it's not confusing to the horse, very straight forward bit and light. No use slapping anything heavy on them. You'll confuse the horse, frustrate him, and in some cases I have witnessed barrel horses be so scared of their bit they will back off the point where they don't run anymore. Don't use a bit to cover training problems.
It's okay to have a strong barrel horse. It's okay to have him hot, or have little quirks about him. He just has to listen to you. While it's okay to have a jiggy horse who lifts his head going in the gate, it's not okay to have one that rears, jumps around, flips its head, ignores your cues when asked to soften his face, etc. Have a reason for choosing your bit.
Listen to your horse. Is he strong? Is he ratey or free running? Does he lift well? Does he have a soft mouth or is he a little harder in the face naturally? What kind of pressure does he respond best to? What type of metal does he like? What sort of mouthpiece does he respond to?
When you do try a new bit, listen to how he responds. Does he flip his head? Does he put his head down or up or jerk it sideways at random? Does he soften and bend well? Do you have a good response time from the time you pick up your hand to the time you get what you asked? Think about what you are getting and don't settle for less than what your horse feels good in.
All these things will factor into your choice. I see so many people using these bits and not having a clue what sort of function they actually perform. If you need help, ask! You have the forum here or even better find someone in person who is knowledgeable and can help you. The beauty of barrel racing is that since anything goes, you can have the utmost freedom in choosing the equipment you need.
That's just my little bit philosophy lesson for the day...Orrather, night, since it's almost 3am now.