I spent the last two days at the Fontaine’s trial in Chiloquin, Oregon. Great trial but no cell coverage.
The trial was on a slightly rolling harvested rye field, very yellow and stubbly. The sheep were incredibly naive yearling black face crosses (Suffolk or Hamp). They were really something. Very, very hard to lift off the top. They would try to out run the dog back to the setout and managed to succeed about half the time. Once lifted, the top part of the fetch was mostly them trying to run faster than the dog so they could get away back to their buddies. The cross drive gate proved a very difficult panel between the sheep breaking for the exhaust and the deceptive lay of the land.
Shedding was hard as the yearlings were difficult to read. Few folks reached the pen. Those who did found the sheep fun to work with there but, you guessed it, generally difficult to pen.
I was proud of my dogs as they all managed to get the sheep down the field, no mean accomplishment where two thirds of the dogs got no scores.
I quit with Joe at the pen on the first day when he took a completely uncalled for bite at one of the sheep who broke away. It was an act of frustration and while I sympathized with him I felt I couldn’t let it go. Today he ran great. He had one ewe fight him hard all the way around and he never lost his patience and managed a very clean finish. A miscommunication on the cross drive, caused I think in part by windy conditions, cost us dearly but didn’t affect my pleasure at his good work.
Tom won the first day with a great run with Sly who made the sheep look easy. When I left for the Finals field Vergil was leading it Scott.
It was an extremely challenging trial and a lot of fun. I’m a bit regretful that the sheep were so hard just before the finals. I hope my boys can manage to change gears for these sheep here and not go out loaded for bear. Still, this trip has been aimed at giving Joe experience and this was sure “Experience.”