In the NRHA Handbook, in the maneuver description of circles it states, "Circles are maneuvers at the lope, of designated size and speed, which demonstrate control, willingness to guide, and degree of difficulty in speed and speed changes." In this series we're not so much talking about the mechanics of training, but more about how to practice at home for the show pen, provided you have a decent size arena and footing to use.
Let's start with a comparison between these two videos.
I'm pretty happy with this mare in the show pen, so far. I'm just going to compare the left circles from the home pen to the show pen. They are not yet identical, but that's the goal.
Remember, a good circle starts with good lead selection and departure. In the practice pen I want to emphasize everything a little more, so I can be more subtle in the show pen. I get more hip for the lead in practice, and a really nice lead departure in both pens. My expectations are the same for both the practice and show arenas. I want to always take my time to make sure the size, shape, and speed are the priority. The way I leave the middle sets the stage for all three of these. Smooth acceleration is very important to ensure a smooth transition to the small slow.
I corrected this mare in the practice arena, but I was able to leave her alone in the show pen - this is the way we want it. We are working towards over emphasizing the maneuvers in the practice arena to make them better in the show pen.