Those who barrel race, how should you get a horse into barrel racing for the first time? The horse I am riding has good flying lead changes, is fast and turns good... but has never been around the barrels, which he will be on Tuesday! Any advice?
First of all, welcome to barrel racing.
It can sure be an adrenaline rush!
Secondly, I would advise you to check out the barrel racing section of this forum Barrel Racing
As well as checking out a thread we started for beginning barrel racers. I highly recommend you read through the whole thing. Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.
Now, as far as your particular situation, you should WALK those barrels on Tuesday.
Yes, I am 100% serious. That is my advice.
It takes anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to fully train a barrel racing horse (and most often, it is closer to that 2 year mark). Before you can go fast, you have to go slow. Or you will create horrible bad habits that are hard to fix.
I think Judy Myllymaki says it best: "We run a barrel horse for us. We walk the barrel horse for him."
You can NEVER walk that barrel pattern too much. But you can certainly run it too much, and ruin him.
You'll hear some people say: "Well why should I go slow and take my time, and avoid bad habits, when I don't expect to travel the rodeo circuit, or make it to the NFR? I just want to go to fun shows and fool around." Sure, not everyone will aspire to have a 1D barrel horse. However, there's still no reason that you can't go through the training process in a correct manner.
As always, when you start a new event, it is always
best if you can take lessons
or work with a barrel racing trainer
. Sure, you can get advice on the internet, watch YouTube videos, read books, etc but it cannot replace the expertise of a real live person. (You wouldn't go fly a plane because you read about it in a book, right? No! You'd have many hours in the cockpit taking lessons from a trainer, certified pilot.)
So, get yourself a trainer. But here are some videos to get your started.
Dena Kirkpatrick has a lot of free video on YouTube based off her training DVDs. Here's one so that you can find the others.
Sherry Cervi also has a few trouble-shooting videos.
If you still have questions after reading over the thread we started in the barrel racing forum, please feel free to ask.