Patty, a donkey rescued from Romania has an unusual and special talent… She can paint!
Looked after by HorseWorld, a Bristol-based animal welfare charity, Patty learnt to paint as part of a wide range of activities to help her become accustomed to human contact.
In 2013 Patty’s life changed drastically as she found fame on the ITV show Britain’s Got Talent.
Vicky Greenslade, Assistant Yard Manager at HorseWorld Visitor Centre, works with Patty the painting donkey to carry out the training. The pair have a strong, trusting bond and Vicky is able to ask Patty to perform all sorts of unusual tasks – such as painting canvasses and even a model pony, one brushstroke at a time!
“We’ve used Clicker training for the last eight years,” says Vicky. “The technique can be used if a horse is frightened of an object, area or traffic, to help the animal to assimilate and desensitise. Or if the animal is retired, this type of training can be a really good way to exercise and provide mental stimulation for the horse, as well strengthening their bond with people.
“Patty was rescued in an emaciated condition in 2005 where she was for sale at a UK auction, after being shipped over from Romania with another donkey Pixie. Pixie has since been rehomed and Patty has stayed at HorseWorld’s Visitor Centre. Patty was very nervous as she’d had no contact with people apart from at the auction. Once she was at HorseWorld, she began her rehabilitation training. Patty is now so confident, she is the leader of the donkey herd at HorseWorld. At nine, she is actually young to be the leader and therefore the group she leads is quite a naughty, cheeky bunch!
“Patty took to clicker training straight away. She now carries out one or two sessions a week. When clicker training, the timing and noise of the click is the most important part, not the food treat. The click has to be at the right moment, and is a positive reinforcement to reward the animal carrying out the desired action.”
Many of Patty’s paintings have been sold to people who have commissioned their favourite colours. You can commission your very own Patty painting through the HorseWorld shop under alternative gifts. Funds raised from Patty’s canvases help the charity to rescue more horses, ponies and donkeys, saving them from a live of misery and neglect.
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