I started writing this as a response to Muddy K's comment but it got really long so I decided to make a post out of it instead. You asked a good question that I hope I understood correctly. Here's my answer to the question I think you asked:
I didn't like having to do this with him, it doesn't sit well for me to use negative reinforcement. But when I asked myself if I would be comfortable asking someone else to ride him- with him just deciding to run off whenever he pleased- I wasn't. It wasn't safe and he was escalating. Visions of him bolting across the hillside were swimming in front of my eyes.
All I want him to do is wait for me to say okay before he transitions up; when he transitions up without me asking for it he has to circle. I could just ask him to halt but I'd probably have to pull on his face to get it and I don't want to do that (he's been ignoring my seat aids too). What I'm trying to do with the circling is get my message across with the least amount of punishment. When HE finds the stop we stop, I don't keep pushing him past that point to add an exclamation mark. I've never found that making the horse move past the point where they want to stop just to "make it your idea" works very well for me. Been there, tried that, decided not to buy the t-shirt.
Most of what I do is trail ride and sometimes we get in situations where I really need him to run these things by me so he doesn't get hurt. I'm not doing this to be punitive or controlling, I just need to him to get the message that he needs to get my permission. The last thing I want to do is kill his exuberance and make him hate being ridden- if I'd gone out today and he'd run off to the other side of the pasture to avoid me I would have written about it and warned everyone to never do this. Believe me, I was looking at him for signs that I'd done wrong by him, he's not shy about letting me know he's ticked at me. But he wasn't, he let me put the halter on like he normally does, walked beside me up to the barn like he normally does, let me tack up while he stood loose eating hay like he normally does, and when I rode him we only had to circle twice. Plus he actually stopped for clicks for the first time in weeks, he had been blocking me out to such an extent that he wasn't even stopping for treats anymore (This was quite distressing for me, I went out and bought the premium treats I know he loves and he wasn't even stopping for those- prompting some serious self questioning on my part.).
It's possible he could still be ticked at me or he could be accepting that I'm standing my ground and making boundaries, I'll probably never really know. What I do know is that if I need to do something to save my bones from getting busted I will. I can't afford to get broken again like I was last year.
Will he run off again eventually? Yes.
Will I fall asleep at the wheel and let him? Sadly I probably will.
Is there a better way to do this? Probably.
Do I know what it is? No.
If I find a better way will I use it? Absolutely, and I'll be sure to let everyone know so they can do it too if they want.