Welcome to barrel racing.
It'sdefinitely an addicting sport.
First, I would encourage you to check out the "newbie" thread we started for people just getting into barrel racing. I suggest you read the whole thing. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
Okay I want to start barrel racing in addition to English pleasure. not on the same horse though. Ever since I was little I wanted to do barrels, but the horse I had was...um...slow. Very slow. like he tried with all his 14.1 hand heart and he was slow lol. I ended up selling him and have been riding English for the past nearly 4 years.
"Slow" barrel horses can be just as valuable as the rodeo winners. When you are just learning barrels, you won't be able to go mach 9 right off the start. Same way you wouldn't go jump 4 foot fences on an English jumper, before first mastering 2 foot jumps. Ladder horses in barrel racing are important for learning too.
Anyway, that's just my little "plug" for the slow barrel horses because they are fantastic for someone just learning and just starting out.
I have not ridden western for 4 years. My mom has a paint gelding I want to try to run barrels on. I have been riding for 10 years and have many people who can help me including trainers. Barrel racing is big around here.
Eliciting the help of a barrel trainer is key. Sure, we can give you advice on the internet. You can watch training videos from purchased DVDs or on YouTube, but it just cannot beat a real live person helping you with your horse. I would definitely get some lessons set up.
Any ways, this gelding is a big 15.2 hand stout paint. He is built like a truck. He is 8 years old. He can be fast when he wants but is hard to get moving because he is lazy. But he is out of shape and not ridden much. So I am pretty sure the laziness will go away haha. My first question is what do you think of him as a barrel horse? here are some pictures. Sorry they are not very great. It is really all I have at the moment. I will get some more tomorrow.
He looks to be built a lot like my horse Red. One thing therefore to keep in the back of your mind is that you horse may have trouble moving his shoulders freely because he is built a little bit "front heavy". I've not seen him move so it may or may not be the case, but it's something I always keep in mind with my horse too, because he is also thick, but front heavy.
Yes, I would suspect he doesn't want to work too hard because he is out of shape. I wouldn't want to work either if I wasn't in shape. So get him conditioned BEFORE you start working on the barrels with him. Expect at least a good month before he's in any sort of shape. Make sure to do lots of circle work to get "those muscles" into shape as well.
2nd question is how do I keep the saddle from sliding back? I have tried tightening the breast collar but it doesn't help and I am afraid to tighten it anymore because I don't want it to dig into him. Especially since it is leather. I am using my brothers huge saddle right now because I am waiting for my new one to come in. hopefully it will be better. But is there a certain kind of pad to keep it from going back or something?
If your saddle slides back, then it does not fit properly. Period. No saddle pad will make it "stay" and you certainly don't want to rely on a breast collar for an ill-fitting saddle.
Hopefully your new one fits better.
Bonus question: Anything I can do to teach him to move into a canter without having to ask 10 million times? I would like him to canter when I ask not just trot faster. even on a lunge line. I have never had a horse that would not move into a canter.
You have to make it NOT an option, to not listen to you. Carry a crop with you if you need. Ask him to canter as you normally would. If he does not respond within a stride or two, then ask him again. If he still does not respond within a stride or two, THEN use that crop to get his butt moving.
Now please keep in mind that you need to get him in shape properly too. If he's out of shape and just wants to speed up at the trot instead, he sounds unbalanced and unconditioned. Do lots of trotting (both jogging and extended) and lots of circles and bending, to get him better conditioned and those muscles in shape.