Painting Donkey

A rescued donkey has been showing off an unusual and special talent - painting. And hundreds of thousands of shoppers will get the chance to view the results of her creative flair for themselves, in Bristol’s Cabot Circus shopping centre.

Patty, an eight year old rescued donkey has put paintbrush to figurine to paint one of the 60 model ponies that will be displayed in the shopping centre from 21 July to 7 September, as part of HorseWorld’s Trail of Painted Ponies, a public art trail to celebrate the charity’s 60th year. Patty painted her very own piece, using ‘clicker training’, a technique that uses a 'click' sound as part of positive reinforcement training.

Vicky Greenslade, Assistant Manager at HorseWorld Visitor Centre yard, 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 – such as painting a model pony, one brushstroke at a time! Patty often features in presentations. She kisses and can kick a football, all as part of her training. Vicky says:

Clicker training has been used at HorseWorld for the last eight years. 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 the leader of the donkey herd at HorseWorld. At eight, she is actually young to be the leader and therefore the group she leads is quite a naughty, cheeky bunch!"
HorseWorld is a leading UK equine charity that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes up to 100 abandoned, neglected and mistreated horses every year and is now responsible for over 400 horses, ponies and donkeys, including those out at responsible loan homes.  
The Trail of Painted Ponies will feature designs by celebrities, sports clubs, animal welfare organisations and members of the public who entered an art competition. The model Painted ponies measure up to 60cm high and long.