Originally Posted by TruckingCowgirl
They can be a bit spacey when I need them to focus.
And hence the meaning of "seasoning" a barrel horse.
How old are your horse(s)?
How long have you been teaching them the barrels?
Exhibitions are offered at most jackpot barrel races and they are a great way to get a youngster in the show environment, without dishing out extra money to compete. (Most places charge for exhibitions, but it is relatively low cost.) And exhibitions will often allow you to go through the pattern multiple times so that you could (for example) walk the pattern, trot it, then lope it.
When you take a horse who is just learning to a race, remember to STICK to your game plan. You're going to see other people whipping and spurring their horses to go faster, and it's going to make you think "Well, maybe my horse could go that fast today too!". Don't let yourself fall for it. Don't let others influence you. Make a plan before you arrive at the barrel race and stick with your plan.
If you have a horse who is not used to the show environment, it is helpful to bring along a calm older horse to serve as a buddy, if you have one.
Do you have any videos you can show us? You'll come to realize that we are photo-greedy and video-eating people around here.