Barking out commands and whistling to her faithful sheepdog, Jean, 12-year-old Claudia Pattinson is in her element – so much so that the trophy shelf at home is overflowing with silverware.

Claudia has been competing in sheepdog trials since the age of seven, and mum Anna admitted that they would have to get a bigger shelf in the kitchen at High Shields Farm near the Roman Wall to house the cups, shields and trophies which have stacked up over the years.

For Claudia, working with sheepdogs has become second nature, and it runs in the blood because her dad Jonjo is an old hand at the art, winning many competitions himself.

“I have been around them all my life with Dad and I always helped on the farm,” said Claudia. “When I had my first trial, it was just amazing how they could understand you with these commands. There is ‘away’ which means right, ‘come-bye’ which is left and there is ‘lie down’. And there are different ways of saying them. There’s ‘walk on’ and ‘look back’ if they have missed something.”

The whistles, explained Claudia, were used to direct the dogs when they were further away.

There are many dogs on the farm and some are harder to train than others, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be star performers.

“Jean is my favourite and she was quite hard to train ­– really quite difficult,” said Claudia.

“Some people train them quite easily, but some people like my dad have a lot of them, so do not have the time to train them when they are young. So really it is only 10 minutes a day so they are not trained until they are a bit older.”

Claudia has lost count of the number of competitions she has won over the years, but it currently stands at anything between 20 to 30.

There are novice, open and young handler (25 or under and 16 or under) classes and Claudia is already punching above her weight, competing against adults. She’s won the Northumberland U25 young handler trophy for the last three years running.

“The first time I did it I was quite nervous, but I had seen a lot of people do it from previous trials,” she said. “It encouraged me and made me think that not every trial is going to be perfect and if you want to do it you learn from your mistakes. Even if you have a really good run, there are always bits you can improve on.”

Claudia has improved to the point that when she competes with her dad, they make a formidable pair. Jonjo has won the Alston Moor trial for two years running with his dog, Boo and won the open trial at Falstone Show this year. He won the Brampton trials in 2017 and this year, Claudia scooped three prizes at the event for best local handler, best local dog and youngest competitor for the third year running. She also won the young sheep handler prize at the Roman Wall Show in 2017 and 2018.

And what does she want to do when she leaves school? She smiled and said: “A farmer!”