I'm rather new to barrel racing, and I was considering trying it with my 10 y/o paint. I've tried going to barrel practice at an arena near my house (i don't have an arena big enough to practice in), and he was way too fast, and would NOT listen to my hands or any of my cues. I feel like I should be on a slower horse for first starting out, because I was pulling back on the reins the whole run, and after the run home, he nearly ran me into the gate. I felt I had no control over him whatsoever and I have never ever seen him like that before. He's pretty much a solid kids horse, but when we got in the arena he barely even realized I exist. There's no other horse I can ride (we have no money) and I can't afford a trainer (again, no money..). Any tips? :/
Welcome to barrel racing.
It sure can be a blast, but not so much when you are on a horse that you have no control of.
You've gotten great advice so far. Basically, slow it down!
You can also read through the sticky Drum started on the forum for newbies to barrel racing, and we've all added to it. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
Stick to walking or trotting only when the barrels are in the arena. Make sure you can do a one-reined stop with him, if he tried to autopilot back to "out of control".
Keep your movements smooth and calm and "ho hum". You getting frustrated or frantic with him to slow him down or control him, will escalate things.
Work on lots of bending, and lots of circles. And you don't have to do the barrels in order. You can go all rights around them. Or all lefts. Or you can add an extra barrel. Or set them in a line. You can work on the fundamentals of barrel racing, without actually doing the pattern. This keeps things new and exciting for your horse, and doesn't become boring.
At first, do everything at the walk. Expect perfection. He should keep his body rounded and face soft. When he's perfect and calm at the walk, then try the trot. Same thing: Perfection at the trot before going faster.
And you can also do many different things in the arena. Work on pole bending. Or work cattle. Or do a reining pattern. I like my horses to be well-rounded and do many things in the arena ... not just barrels.
Certainly keep us up-to-date on how he's doing! And we require PHOTOS. Period.