Young handler Christopher Corbett and his faithful gundog Heather have had a very successful summer on the competitive circuit, picking up awards across the country as they competed against some of the most internationally renowned dog handlers.

Eleven-year-old Christopher, who received a Young Achievers award by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council earlier this year, competed at numerous competitions this summer including the North Antrim Gundog Test where he was placed second and at Ballyarnett where he won the Young Handler Award. He was also placed runner-up Young Country Sports Person of the Year at the Northern Ireland Countrysports Fair at Scarvagh House.

Christopher said that he enjoyed all the competitions he took part in this summer, but a particular highlight was the Annual Working Test at Shane's Castle Estate where he was awarded the shield for Young Handler of the Show.

Although his family have always had dogs, Christopher, who lives in Clabby, is the first member to go into the testing and trialling of them. The independent young man trains his dog Heather himself, walking her four times a day, starting at 6am before he goes to school. He also works her three or four times a week and if there is a competition, it could be more. In addition to Heather, Christopher has recently got a new four-month-old pup called Bruce, so by next year's test season the talented young handler will be working two dogs!

Proud mother Tracy says that she has seen a real change in her son since he started working with his dog.

“Training and competing with Heather has brought Christopher totally out of his shell. If he has that dog beside him he is a different child altogether, he has no qualms about speaking to adults or anything. He doesn’t compete against kids, he competes against adults, there are no other children in the country that compete at his level. He’s competed against some of the top handlers in the world and we are the ones that are a bag of nerves, not him.”

Now that Christopher is back at school after a summer full of competitions he says he misses Heather greatly. Tracy says: “Christopher and Heather are joined at the hip, she sits and waits at the door for him at 2.50pm, she knows the time he returns home from school.”

“This is Christopher’s first season competing properly in the tests," adds Tracy. "We are very chuffed with him. When he started off on May 25, he placed number eighth out of 20 competitors. Only three months later he was winning and getting second and third places against some of the top handlers in the country.”

There is no stopping this young man and his best friend as he continues on to the gundog trial this winter.