I find a lot of the people who compete in my region are ignorant stuck-up witches who don't have a bloody clue about horsemanship and drill the poor horses until they know nothing but "run like hell and turn." But if you were to throw one of those horses at a speed barrel course they would be so confused that they would end up knocking every barrel down. And their spurring, shouting, flapping burdens don't help.
You wanna be a good barrel racer? Learn from an expert. Find a nice calm horse who has all the leg training and start by trotting, loping, then running the pattern. Although I often scatter the barrels in random places to keep the horse guessing. Most of the time I work in the reining arena however, because I think that teaches more than the actual barrel training does.
Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.