apparently involving independent distance work such as dogs working the fells here would need.Maybe you don't get the small field set ups that we have in some parts of the UK where a dog is working at much closer quarters.
No, we certainly have big farms (some are 20,000+ acres), but we also have many small farms set up with small pens and very small paddocks. Some of these farms are as small as 1 acre in size. Even the larger farms can have sorting systems that require a dog to work in confined spaces. The same dog that I send 800 yards to gather the flock can do sorting in a pen system, and I don't consider him a rare dog in the breed. Again, it's a matter of taking a good dog and giving that dog a wide variety of experiences. There are absolutely dogs out there who fail at big outruns despite good training but do very well on small farms. Those dogs, IMHO, should not be adding to the Border Collie gene pool.
I live on the coast where the sheep graze the salt marshes or in enclosed fields. 20 miles away we have the Pennines and the Lakeland fells where the sheep are free to roam. Could you take a dog from the coast and expect it to work the fells? Maybe in an ideal world but in practice from the dogs I know from both locations I don't think it's a given.
You don't know how a dog will do until you try. Certainly there would be a period of adjustment for any dog, but the breeding quality
dogs should be able to adapt to the change.
An adolescent bitch was taken to the vet a few months ago to be put to sleep because she was said to have no outrun. She was rehomed on another farm and settled into working as that farmer wanted straight away. Hearsay on my part, of course, but I have no reason to doubt the source who was personally involved. So many "failures" rehomed elsewhere to work.
Dogs "fail" all the time due to poor training and handling. They also fail in once place but succeed in another because they lack the genetic skill set to complete certain tasks. Dogs with no outrun can be useful on a small farm, but should not be bred as Border Collies.
Your definition of "poor quality" would not be universal, I'm sure. Your "poor" may be someone else's "perfectly adequate for purpose".
Very true. But I also have different standards for working quality vs breeding quality. I've had many dogs over the years who I considered great for work but not worth breeding.