I decided to work on our circles again... they need a lot of work, especially now that Rem has decided he enjoys running around like crazy...
Last fall I learned a neat exercise at one of my lessons that really improves your horse's circles.
It is like a 4 leaf clover pattern, or a quartered circle pattern. When most people think of a clover leaf pattern they think of barrel racing, but this is not like a barrel pattern. There are no lead changes involved and also no tight turns.
You start off in the middle of the pattern you're about to make and lope off in a straight line, as soon as you reach the outside edge of your circle you take a left (or a right depending on which direction/lead you'd like to pursue). Lope a quarter of the way around your circle and take another left and go straight through the center to the other outer edge of the circle. Continue until you've made a complete clover pattern. I'll attach a diagram for clarification.
(This is not a good example of my photoshop skills... but it gets the message across I hope)
Because you are only loping a quarter circle before you change directions to the inside, your horse will learn not to drift out when doing full circles. An important thing to remember when doing this pattern and circles in general is to look ahead at where you're going. One of my biggest problems is looking down at my horse instead of where we are going, and I find if someone is there to yell at me to look ahead, my patterns/circles improve so much just by doing that simple thing!
I started loping Rem today on just a regular circle, but it was more like an oval bowing towards the gate, followed by who knows what kind of shape when he decided he should run straight to the fence with his head bent left *sigh* So, I decided to practice this pattern, and sure enough after doing a full clover, his circles were 10 times better. No more bowing out! I should mention that when doing this pattern and circles you should stay away from the rail. You don't want your horse to rely on the rail for exercises like this.
This pattern can also be done at the trot, which I would recommend first if you've never done it before, just to learn it. Either way, your horse will be doing perfect circles in no time!!