Okay, so I want to start running barrels with my mare. I have already started patterning her, and she will trot and canter pretty nicely around the barrels. I ride English and western, but I've never really known much about running barrels. I have a couple friends who do it, and of course I've seen it at rodeos and gymkhanas...
However, I don't know very much about barrel racing, and I was hoping some of you experienced barrel racers could give me some tips on starting out. Are there any particular gymnastics that would be beneficial for conditioning her for barrels? I know there's a lot more to it than just galloping around the barrels...but how hard is it to train your horse to balance himself around the turns, and "sit and spin"? Is that really necessary? I know these probably sound like stupid questions to those of you who know what you're doing. But do you have to switch leads during your run? I never really payed attention to that, I guess. My mare doesn't know how to perform flying lead changes yet, so that would be a problem.
I have a barrel racing book by Sharon Camarillo (I think) that I'm going to read, so that should help a lot. But pleasee leave any tips/advice! Anything you want to tell me that will be even a little bit helpful is welcome.