I LOVE my local gymkhanas, a lot of the big time barrel racers will look down their nose at you but they are SO much fun and so good for your horse to get to do all those different events.
Me too! Gaming events all day. LOVE IT! No, it is not as glamorous
as winning the 1D out of 1,500 barrel racers and being on the cover of barrel horse news, but the small gaming shows are still a blast.
I've been barrel racing and doing gaming events since I was 4 years old. I'm now approaching 27. And I just took my first official English riding lessons over the winter.
So it is never a bad thing to try new things and experience new things!
So there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing both!
I agree with sorrelhorse completely. When you are dabbling in something you've never done before, it is always best to take some lessons from a barrel racing trainer. That will give you the opportunity to get a feel for barrels on their lessons horses, before you go out and buy your own. Plus, there is A LOT more to barrel than just running around 3 cans as fast as you can. Just like there is more to show jumping that galloping around on your horse and hopping over fences. So at the minimum, even if you aren't going to do anything besides "just for fun" with it, you should still learn how to do it correctly.
I had actually stumbled across on episode of Swapping Saddles where a barrel racer and an English jumper swapped disciplines. It was neat to watch! I started a thread about it a while back. Barrel Racing versus English Jumping .... who wins?
DrummRunner also started a good thread about barrel exercises. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
Along with barrel racing lessons, it's always beneficial to get your hands on other resources such as DVDs and books. Charmayne James, Martha Josey, Ed and Martha Wright, Sharon Camarillo, are just a few names of great books. Charmayne James and Dena Kirkpatrick have amazing training DVDs as well.
Dena has a bunch of free clips on Youtube, and Sherry Cervi has a couple trouble shooting clips. That's a good place to start.