Hey guys. I'm 14 and I really want to start barrel racing.
Well I guess my first obvious questions would be:
1) Are you parents okay with you barrel racing?
2) Have you ever barrel raced before?
3) How long have you been riding horses and what sort of competitions have you done (if any)?
I am assuming you at least know how to ride a horse, as you mentioned your parents raise Quarter Horses.
Don't take these question personally or as derogatory, because we know absolutely nothing about you so we have to ask.
Do I need an instructor?
If you have never barrel raced before, YES. A barrel racing instructor will help you immensely. I highly recommend you find someone to work with hands-on.
A lot of people mistakenly think that barrel racing is easy, because all you do is run really fast and make three turns. Simple, right? No. In reality, barrel racing is just as complex as any other sport and requires precise training like any other sport.
Is it expensive to barrel race?
Depends what your goals are. If you just want to go to the local gaming show down the road once a year, then no, probably not.
But if you want to travel 3 or 4 hours to go to an NBHA super show, or you want to enter in rodeos, and you want to barrel race every weekend, etc etc, then yes, it can get very expensive.
Do I need a horse specifically trained for it?
Since you are just starting out, it is the best if you can find a horse that is older (over 10 years old) that is already trained for barrels. It is going to be hard enough for you to learn everything about barrels, and it will be much easier to learn if you don't have to worry about your horse.
Yes, a horse trained on barrels will be more expensive than one who is not, but it is going to benefit YOU as the rider much more if you buy one that has already been there and done that. And you do not need to go buy the $75,000 rodeo-winning horse. You can instead buy the $5,000 horse that makes the 3D or the 4D.
I would really appreciate it if you guys could tell me everything I need to know. Thanks!
If I sat here and told you everything you need to know, I would literally be writing a book.
For starters, you can check out the barrel sticky on this forum that Drum started. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
Secondly, get your hands on some barrel racing books or DVDs. Charmayne James, Ed and Martha Wright, Martha Josey, and Sharon Camarillo are just a couple who have great books. You usually can find used copies on Amazon. I've also found that Dena Kirkpatrick has an amazing DVD series. It's expensive, but it is well worth it. Charmayne James also has a DVD set, but I have not purchased hers personally. Just read and watch everything you can get your hands on.
I would also subscribe to Barrel Horse News, which is a month barrel racing magazine.
Dena Kirkpatrick also has a bunch of free clips on YouTube. Here is one of them that will lead you to the rest.
Sherry Cervi also has a couple problem fixing free clips on YouTube.
Just educate yourself about everything you can. But just know that books and DVDs cannot replace hands-on training, so I would still highly recommend you find a barrel racing trainer to work with. They will also be able to help you select a horse to purchase.