I would like to learn to barrel race with my new QH, but someone told me that if you barrel race a horse that they will only want to run, then you can't trail ride or just pleasure ride. Is this true?
It is absolutely not true.
The primary way to keep a barrel horse conditioned and legged up IS by doing lots of trail riding. With my barrel horses, I typically ride between 3 and 7 miles every single day (distance depends on the horse), along with spending some time doing circles, serpentines, spirals, and other barrel racing drills, and along with weekly or bi-weekly breezing (running all-out in a safe open field or track).
Most barrel horses don't become antsy, unless they are at a barrel race and ready to do their job. My last barrel horse, he looked more like a western pleasure horse 99% of the time .... until I'd give him the cue to GO! Then you could hardly hold him back he so loved to run.
How your barrel horse acts depends greatly on how you handle them. Sure, if you do nothing but run the pattern every single day, you are going to have a hot-head nut job on your hands. But if you bring the horse along slowly and correctly, you often will have a well-rounded individual that can do a variety of things.
my Dad used to barrel race and I would love to do it. I am 46, do you think that I am to old for it?
Nope. Never too old. My mom and I travel together and she's going to be 58 this year. And we're both starting our 2-yr-olds this year.
Never too old!
What is the difference between a barrel racing saddle and a western saddle?
While you can certainly barrel race in ANY saddle (or no saddle at all for that matter), a barrel saddle is specifically designed to
--have a higher seat to help hold you in when your horse powers out of the turns
--slightly forward stirrups so that you don't get thrown forward and out of balance
--a tall and accessable saddle horn so that you can wedge yourself against it in a barrel turn
--stirrups that allow you to dig your feet in so they stay in
--lighter in weight so it's less for the horse to carry
For example: Here is a Billy Cook barrel racing saddle
And in contrast, here is a general western trail saddle.