I finally got up the gumption to ask Linda Parelli herself about Buster's problem with circles. I went to her Parelli Connect wall, and this is what I wrote:
I've been working with Buster, my LBI, Quarter Horse gelding for a year. When we got him, he had little to no real training at all. I was just starting out with the Parelli program at the time, so we've kind of been learning together- as we go. We've both made a lot of progress since then, and we've both overcome a lot, confidence-wise. I know we're ready to pass levels 1/2 online, and level 2 Freestyle, with flying colors!- if we could just get over one more bump: circles.
Buster was perfectly fine with the circle game until we asked him to canter. He was on a 22' line, and had been doing nice, relaxed trotting circles for a few months before I asked him too, but when I did, he blew up (meaning, he started bucking and jerking the rope out of my hands). I went back to walking and trotting relaxed circles for a while, but the next time I asked him to canter, he did the same thing. He's gotten worse about it since- now, he won't even trot a circle, and he's not even completely relaxed at the walk. It doesn't help that I'm constantly worrying about what he'll do next. Our trust is completely shattered. My guess is that he's gone back into 'longeing mode', and I don't know how to bring him back out. I really don't think that what he's doing is play- it might have started out that way, but now it's progressed to something else, and I don't know how to handle it. There are no Parelli instructors in my area, and I'm getting to the end of my rope. I can tell that I'm getting frustrated with him, and I know that I can't do that. What should I do? Should I reprimand him? Mirror him? Change the subject? Any advice would be so greatly appreciated! :)
Hopefully she writes back!