First of all, welcome to barrel racing! It's a blast, once you get going.
Secondly, I want you to check out this thread. We created it to be a reference for new barrel racers to read through. Please read the whole thing. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
And thirdly, we'll give you what help we can over the internet, but it will always
be better if you can work with a trainer
and take some barrel racing lessons.
Okay, here's what I see in your video:
--Make your barrel reins shorter. Look at all the extra you have in there. A good rule of thumb is when your horse is standing relaxed, the reins should be about 1 to 2 inches in front of your saddle horn, if you pick up the reins to ask him to back up. In my photo here, look at where my reins are: (I've got a small "loop" in my hands.
--Do not neck rein around the barrel. It tips your horse's nose to the outside, which is not what you want. You should be asking with a direct rein from the inside, asking the nose to tip in. I'll explain more below.
--You ask your horse to turn TOO SOON at the barrel. Watch this video from Dena Kirkpatrick (she's got a lot of videos on YouTube) and she talks about barrel position. Also notice how she tips her horse's nose to the inside, and look at the great curve the horse's body has around the barrel.
--You ARE leaning to the inside, and looking down at your horse's shoulder. Both are no-no's. You should be sitting tall and straight in your saddle, with most of your weight in the OUTSIDE stirrup. Remember centripetal force from physics class? An object traveling in a circle will travel FASTER with the weight to the outside. Your eyes should be looking between your horse's ears, at the ground you want your horse to get to. NEVER look at the barrel. Your horse goes where you look, so be sure to look where you are going!!
--When you approached the third barrel, you again turned too soon. Plus, you yanked him over with your neck rein (you really are NOT neck reining correctly. More about that below.), which threw his nose to the outside, plus you were leaning inward ....... Well, it's no wonder he feels rough and couldn't keep his gallop up! You aren't helping him at all.
--And let go of that saddle horn!!!! It's not helping your body posture any. Yes, it is fine to hold onto the horse in the turn to keep your body in position, but at this stage in the game, you'll need to use two hands around the barrel to keep your horse shaped and correct, until he learns on his own.
His conformation is not the greatest. Not even close. He is built down hill, and his legs are too under him. His canter/gallop is pretty rough, and I have found the best way to ride it is with an "english style" seat, forward and up.
Have you had him examined by a chiropractor?
How about a lameness specialist vet?
If the horse has pain issues because of poor conformation, you are going to need to address that FIRST before you expect him to perform. (Although I honestly don't think he looks that bad.)
My horses get a "wellness exam" every single year from my vet to hopefully catch issues before they actually become an issue. They also see the chiropractor at least once per year (more often if they have an issue). They see the dentist every year. And the farrier works on them every 6 weeks like clockwork.
My problem is when I get to barrels, I am obviously not sitting deep in the saddle, therefore I feel like I am throwing the both of us off balance. Can anyone recommend some excercises/tecniques to help me get deeper in the saddle, and for my horse to not be so rough? Is it a roundness issue? He also has a problem changing his leads, and breaks into a trot to do so. I have been around horses most of my live but would consider myself a novice when it comes to "training fixes." Most of what I do is on a trail, so leads obviously aren't that important (until now!! gosh.)
He sounds like he is VERY unbalanced, especially if he's constantly breaking down into a trot when galloping.
Now, does he KNOW flying lead changes? If he's never been taught, he is going to have
to break down to a trot and do a simple lead change. Flying lead changes aren't necessary for barrel racing (although nice to have) because often the horse will learn themselves (with you showing him with a simple lead change immediately after your first barrel) where to change leads.
How in shape is your horse? If he's not in tip-top conditioning, of course he'll have issues with physical activity.
I do lots, and lots, and lots of circle work
. At both the trot and the lope. It helps build those muscles and build balance in a horse (and rider). If you want a suggestion on exercises you can do with him = do circles. And lots of them. Big, small, and in-between. Work on making them absolutely perfect, and keeping his body perfectly bent to match.
And for you to learn to sit BACK in your saddle, I'd work on those circles without stirrups. Force yourself to sit deep in your saddle. When you lean forward, you put most of your weight on his front end, which makes his front end less "free" and very difficult for him to move it around. Keep your weight centered. (plus leaning too far forward while making turns in barrel racing actually makes your horse more prone to falling, because he can't move his front end as freely)
I'm thinking part of my problem is that I'm attempting to neck rein him around the barrels. Maybe that's causing me to lean into my inside stirrup to reach?
Don't neck rein. A horse needs to be able to have a curve in their body to match the circle they are making. That means the nose should be tipped in, and the hindquarters should also be inward.
Yes, the neck reining is causing you issues. Plus, you aren't even neck reining correctly. When you neck rein, you simply lay the opposing rein on his neck. You NEVER pull so hard, that you engage the bit (which you are doing). This is very confusing to him because he's got the rein against his neck, plus the bit pulling him in the opposite direction from that neck rein, plus he's getting contact and pull from the inside bit, plus you are leaning. Neck reining (anyway) should be mostly coming from your legs and seat.
And advice how I would go about getting him to wrap around my leg? Do I just do lots of circles and figure eights using more leg pressure than rein? And I'm guessing the "pocket" is the space around the barrel?
Rein is always a secondary cue. Legs and body should always come first.
Let's say we want to make a circle to the left. Use your left inside rein to directly tip his nose to the inside (left). Keep your inside left leg in a neutral spot by the girth. This is the leg he is going to bend around. Move your outside right leg slightly backward, so that you are asking him to keep his hip inward.
Yes, the "pocket" is the terminology for the path your horse travels around the barrel. It is roughly 4 feet from the barrel all the way around, but different horses will need different distances. 4 feet is just a starting point.
When he canters, it's almost like he skips with his back end. He doesn't look like most horses do when he runs. I don't know if it's a conformation issue or a laziness issue, but it's almost as if he doesn't quite bend his back legs to bring them under him, instead he lifts his hips and keeps as straight a leg as he possibly can. Is this part of the needing to get him on his haunches more?
I would need to see a better video of his lope. At the end of your barrel practice, I really don't see anything severely wrong with his lope. Yes, he certainly could be more balanced and more conditioned, but he's not bad.
Just work on all those CIRCLES I recommended.