The Coyote Classic is fast becoming one of my favorite trials. Even though the weather has a tendency to be a bit cool, sometimes wet, and usually breezy, Deb & Tom Conroy go out of their way to make everyone feel relaxed and at home. The stock is excellent — with some of the best cattle I’ve had the opportunity to trial on anywhere. And the folks that come to trial, help, and judge, are just plain good fun.
It’s a good thing the trial is so enjoyable, because my runs weren’t as good as I had hoped they would be. I had one consistent problem — no crossdrive. Yep, that’s an issue all right. Quinn’s best scores were in the take pen. The dog has a great one. His drive up to the first panel isn’t so shabby either. Coming off that first panel, however, he sucks to the fence and refused to take my inside flank. Every sheep run (thankfully, we didn’t need those scores) he did the same exact thing: First panel, kick to the fence, couldn’t get them back up to the top. It took me until after our last run Sunday when I was watching the sheep runs from the top end of the arena (yes, sometimes you have to look at things upside down and backwards to see them clearly) when it struck me. I’d been working with Quinn on cleaning out the corners, making him flank all the way around behind the panel, to the fence, and out. I didn’t go back after that and also work on taking his There and holding the line. I’m guessing he had in his head that we were still cleaning corners.
As Deb would say, “It’s not a big thang, it’s just a thang.” (Yes, you must say that with a western twang.) At least I know what I have to fix. And it wasn’t all bad. We had a close score in cattle, and a close score in ducks — that damn sucking to the fence and skimming the second panel doomed both those runs — and Quinn did some really nice work. He needs more experience on cattle but two of his three take pens were picture perfect, one I went in to help him. On Sunday he had two that kept turning back on him. He came close to biting a nose which would have solved the problem. It would have been a huge step, he hasn’t hit a nose in many, many years — unless he was being naughty. Still, he held the pressure on the heads, used his big dog bark, and kept them moving as far as we could.
He also had a phenomenal flat-footed, on balance drive to the first panel on one of his sheep runs. With the exception of the critical one after the first panel, he took his inside flanks well.
Ducks were up and down. Friday, our run was timed out with a steady, cold rain niether of us wanted to be working in. Saturday was our almost-run, scoring in the mid 70’s. Sunday he was super pushy, over-flanking, and then went in to make a grab. I stopped that run. No bitey duckey. Don’t even think about it.
As I’ve always said, I love it when my students kick my arse. So a big shout out to Tija and Scully. The little man finished his Open sheep and Open duck titles and almost got an Advanced Duck leg. I couldn’t be more proud or thrilled for these two.