Barrel Racing - issues with turning
I have a five year old Quarter Horse mare and physically, she seems like she'd make a superb barrel horse and she's super fast! I started her on barrels last year at gymkhana, just taking it slow and jogging the pattern. I found that it took her a long time to actually even jog the pattern though. She constantly tried to take me through barrels, and when I'd ask her to move out more, she'd buck. When there were no barrels set up or a different speed event like poles or stakes, she'd do fine and turn well and listen. This year, she's sped up a bit and for a while, she actually seemed to be okay with it (not hate it, but not love it completely). We were pulling decent times like 20 seconds on a big pattern. However, later in this year, she suddenly just stopped turning nicely. I will say, though, she has never turned the barrels exceptionally well. She tends not to pocket it, no matter how hard I work on it. Her turning for poles is much better. Anyway, she would take me through first barrel no matter how wide I tried to take it. If it wasn't first barrel, it was third. Changing the starting barrel didn't help either, nor did going back to the basics. She's fine at a walk and trot, but as soon as I ask her to canter or gallop the pattern, she misbehaves. Now she'll grab the bit in her teeth and run away with me to the far corner at first barrel. If she doesn't take it down, she runs away or takes down a different barrel. I don't understand this because she was doing pretty well and then all of a sudden she won't even listen to my cues and its gotten to the point where I don't even want to take her to small games shows. She listens much better for poles and stakes. Also, I have started jumping her for fun and she just loves it and listens really well. She picks up her lead changes, has great form over jumps and I mostly just have to look where I want her to go and she goes there. It's like she's two different horses.
Note: Her tack seems to fit, I can't find anything wrong with her physically, I've taken her off her grain, and I've given her a good break from barrels but nothing has helped and I have never overworked her with them either. I make sure to do other things with her so I'm not just doing one thing but it doesn't help. Actually, people can't believe it when I tell them about her issues because she's usually so calm and well behaved.
If you have any advice I'd really appreciate it. Barrel racing and gymkhana's are a big part of me and going to them with a horse who you just end up fighting with for barrels has taken all the fun out of it, not too mention I'm worried she's going to run me into the fence when she takes off with me. I just don't know what to do with her.