Painting donkey exhibits her artwork

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Patty paintingA rescued donkey who has hit the headlines worldwide by showing off her unusual talent of painting, will be displaying her works of art in HorseWorld’s Visitor Centre cafe for the next few weeks in the hope of raising the funds needed to care for her rescued friends and to help rescue other horses, ponies and donkeys in need.

Eight year old donkey, Patty is now taking commissions for a suggested donation of £60. She discovered her talent earlier this year when the HorseWorld grooms tried to think of activities to keep the mischievous donkey busy.

Assistant Yard Manager, Vicky Greenslade has been helping Patty to create her masterpieces. “Painting provides a valuable form of enrichment for Patty. She is very intelligent and gets bored very easily which can lead to her being mischievous and destructive so we thought this would be something she could do to keep her mind occupied and keep her happy” said Vicky “Patty’s style is rather loose and modern. She has been described as an abstract impressionist. Her lips are not the easiest thing to hold a paintbrush with but with a modified handle, she manages to produce some good work. Many people were so impressed by Patty’s canvases; they have commissioned a unique work of donkey art for themselves and as gifts.”

Patty's painted ponyHundreds of thousands of shoppers have already seized the chance to view some of the results of Patty’s creative flair, in Bristol’s Cabot Circus shopping centre earlier this year when HorseWorld opened a temporary shop for the summer. Patty also put paintbrush to figurine to paint one of 60 model ponies as part of HorseWorld’s Trail of Painted Ponies, a public art trail to celebrate the charity’s 60thyear. Her prize exhibit will be auctioned online from the end of the month.

HorseWorld’s Trail of Painted Ponies featured designs by celebrities, sports clubs, animal welfare organisations, members of the public who entered an art competition and of course a very special donkey!

Patty paints using ‘clicker training’, a technique that uses a ‘click’ sound as part of positive reinforcement training. She was rescued from a UK auction along with her companion after the pair were shipped from Romania in 2005. They were in poor condition and had received little handling. Once at HorseWorld, they began rehabilitation. The important thing was to gain the animals trust and clicker training proved to be an effective way to do this.

Vicky works with Patty 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. She often features in presentations. Her many talents include giving kisses, pushing over cones one by one, taking off Vicky’s jacket and kicking a football.

“Patty has been doing clicker training for about one year and took to it 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.

“Clicker training has been used at HorseWorld 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.

“Choose three paint colours and Patty will paint a canvas just for you – a terrific and unusual gift. You can order a canvas by visiting www.horseworld.org.uk/shop. You can find Patty’s paintings under ‘alternative gifts’. All proceeds go towards the care of HorseWorld’s rescued animals.”

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