I've never taken a riding lesson and nobody ever taught me much about barrel racing. I looked up the basic pattern and got my turn-on-a-dime speed demon gelding and gave it a go. Basically just memorize the pattern and start walking it, and go faster with tighter turns the more you and the horse get familiar with it.
I raced in a snaffle, and as for reins, I started out neck reining and as I got up to the barrel I would slide one hand up and plow rein him around the barrel, then let him go. That was just to teach him. Once he memorized the pattern and knew what was expected he would fly through it with little guidance and he never needed encouragemet for speed. They really have to love it.
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