The English donkey known as Patty is already known by many for her unique talent: painting. Currently residing at the Horseworld animal sanctuary located in the Southwest English town of Bristol, Patty is making a go at national fame by competing on “Britain’s Got Talent”.
Patty routinely makes paintings in a little as ten minutes, and unlike many proverbial “starving artists”, her paintings sell – for a hundred quid or more. Well, Patty has cleared her first hurdle in auditions and even impressed Simon Cowell.
That has set the stage for Patty to compete this Saturday on the live television. In addition, Patty has a unique history. She was abandoned, and near death when animal rescuers found her. At that time, she was stressed and “mouthy”.
One of her caregivers, Vicky Greenslade got the idea to teach Patty to paint as a way of directing her nervous energy. The effort paid off because three weeks later Patty was creating art.
“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.
“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!
“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.”
Greenslade admits that she is not allowed to disclose how Patty performed at the audition. However, judging from the fact that she’ll appear on television shortly, one can surmise she did well. The full five judge panel is said to have been impressed with her.
Simon gets a kick out of ***-tonishing painting donkey