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LUKAS GOES ON THE ROAD WITH GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS You Can Count on the World’s Smartest Horse! Walnut, California – Lukas (http://www.playingwithlukas.com), the World’s Smartest Horse (according to the World Records Academy) and Guinness World Record Holder (“Most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute: 19”), is currently being featured in the Guinness World Records “OMG! On the Road” series....

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Video du Jour: The world’s smartest horse? Meet Lukas, a 19-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred that the Guinness Book of World Records has declared “the smartest horse in the world.” Lukas is able to count, identify different numbers and shapes, spell his owners’ names, and perform various tricks. On June 16, 2010, he swept the Guinness record for “Most Numbers Identified By a Horse In One Minute”–he...

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Lukas and Louis Vuitton World’s Smartest Horse in Prestige Magazine News Flash – Paulick Report, Abundant Hope, Discover Horses, Good Relationships, Relaxed Horsemanship, That’s Really Wild, Equilink Times, Horsealacious, Just Equus, Equine Chronicle, Happy News, My Horse, Equine Welfare Alliance, Horse and Friends Radio Walnut, California – Lukas, the World’s Smartest Horse (according to...

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Lukas Has Plenty to Smile About World’s Smartest Horse Grabs a Guinness   Walnut, California --- Lukas (http://www.playingwithlukas.com), the World’s Smartest Horse (according to the World Records Academy) and Guinness World Record Holder (“Most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute: 19”), has been featured in Caters! Caters news is the United Kingdom’s leading independent photo...

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Gratitude – Racehorse Style – Lukas, The World’s Smartest Horse

Category : Written Words

“Lukas is such a lucky horse – he should be so grateful for everything you’ve done for him.” Gratitude is on everyone’s mind this time of year, especially for me. I receive over one hundred e-mails a day about my horse Lukas from all over the world, and get many comments like the one above. Granted, he’s come a long way since leaving the race track with leg injuries after three forgettable back-of-the-pack finishes. After changing hands several times, he ended up sorely neglected and emaciated in a yard. When I purchased him as a nine-year-old “Inexperienced project horse” from his rescuer, I was hoping to compete him in beginner classes. However, within a month of competition training (by another trainer – I was then working full-time as a nurse), Lukas quickly became resistant and dangerous. He began bucking, bolting and spooking, and was unsafe even in his own stall.

At that low point, I decided to fall back on my trick training experience to try to bridge the gap between us. We started with the smile and as time went on I began to notice a definite improvement in Lukas’ attitude and behavior. He became an eager and willing partner, happy to cooperate and initiate games and our relationship deepened to love. Our lessons progressed from liberty (free/loose) movements to cognitive tasks and we never looked back.

To date, Lukas is able to smile, pose, nod yes, shake his head no, yawn, catch, kiss, fetch, cross his front legs, wave, curtsey, bow, push a cart, passage (like skipping), Spanish Walk (high step), jambette (three legged pivot), act lame, sit, put his legs all together, lay down, rear, stay and come, do pedestal work, play hide and seek and be blindfolded. Most of his acclaim comes from his abilities to spell, count, identify shapes and discriminate colors and he understands object permanence, same/different, spatial relationships, proportion and absentness. Moreover, our bond has received the most attention from animal lovers world-wide.

Lukas has been on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN and Inside Edition and the Associated Press and America On Line released feature articles about him. He has been in magazines, newspapers, forums, blogs and newsletters all over the world and his story has been heard on RFD-Radio, Animal Radio, Pet Talk Radio, Pet Talk Live radio and Pet Place Radio among many others. He was nominated for the 2010 Equine Vision Award sponsored by Pfizer and American Horse Publications.

Also, the World Records Academy recognized him as the World’s Smartest Horse and Guinness approved his record “Most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute: nineteen.” Lukas is the Spokeshorse for After The Finish Line, a group dedicated to finding homes for ex-racehorses. I n addition, we are associated with the Human-Equine Alliance for Learning (HEAL), a program to aid trauma victims through equine assisted therapy.

His second-edition book Playing With Lukas (available at Amazon) and his stunning Documentary were just released in October 2010 and you can watch it directly at http://bit.ly/WatchLukas.

So, as you may have already guessed, it is I who am grateful to have such an incredible friend.

Copyright 2011 Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse, who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. Owner of PlayingWithLukas.com. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance as well as build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit the horses.

LUKAS – World’s Smartest Horse and Guinness World Record Holder

Category : Written Words

“Captivating!,” “Enchanting!,” “Incredible!” – all being used to describe Lukas, a rescued seventeen-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, owned and trained by Karen Murdock. Murdock’s specialty is the ability to form an extraordinary connection with horses by using trick training and games designed to build confidence, focus and trust. Her success is evident with Lukas – his liberty (loose without any equipment) repertoire includes the yes, no, smile, pose, catch, fetch, being blindfolded, playing hide-and-seek, bow, curtsey, pedestal work, wave, passage (similar to skipping), Spanish Walk (high step), stay and come, sit and rear. However, he’s best known for his cognitive tasks: identifying letters, numbers and shapes, discriminating colors and his understanding of object permanence, spatial relationships, same/different, proportion and absentness. Murdock, a psychiatric nurse, developed a progressive system of teaching based on kindness and shared enjoyment for the horse and trainer. The deep love, respect, and appreciation Lukas and Murdock share is obvious to anyone that observes them and their bond has attracted world-wide attention.

Lukas (race name Just Ask Mike) ran in three races as a two-year-old and left the track after being injured. He changed hands several times and ended up neglected and emaciated in a yard. A local trainer took pity on the then eight-year-old gelding – “he was skin and bones and his tail was a solid bat of dried mud” – she purchased him with plans to recondition him and include him in her amateur jumping program. After two years though, he still wasn’t fitting in and Murdock bought him after seeing him advertised in a local sale ad as an “Inexperienced project horse.” Following brief competition training (by another trainer) that didn’t agree with him, Lukas became extremely sullen, distrustful and resistant to the point of being dangerous. His bad habits included bucking and spooking, even in his own stall, and he had difficulty with even small changes and requests.

Through her consistent and patient retraining, Murdock and Lukas have developed a partnership that many have described as magical.

Play is the basis of Murdock’s system and she demonstrates non-force training (without owning a whip) to encourage positive approaches to issues. Her system leads to quicker comprehension, better retention and broader generalizations which makes subsequent lessons
easier.

Once destined for a bleak future, Lukas has been recognized by the World Records Academy as “The World’s Smartest Horse” and Guinness has approved his record “Most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute: 19.” He’s appeared on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN, and the Associated Press and America On Line released feature stories about him. Lukas has been in magazines, newspapers, forums, newsletters and blogs world-wide and his story has been on Pet Talk Radio, Pet Place Radio, Pet Talk Live Radio, RFD-Radio and Animal Talk Radio. Also, he was nominated for the 2010 Equine Vision Award sponsored by Pfizer and American Horse Publications. In addition, he is the Spokeshorse for After The Finish Line, an organization dedicated to finding homes for ex-racehorses.

His spectacular Documentary and the second edition of his new book Playing With Lukas (available at Amazon) have been released. Lukas continues to share the happy results of kind training and to show how wonderful and smart animals are for their improved treatment. Click here to watch Lukas’ Documentary live at http://bit.ly/WatchLukas.

Copyright 2011 Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse, who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. Owner of PlayingWithLukas.com. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance as well as build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit the horses.

Story Time With Lukas, The World’s Smartest Horse

Category : Written Words

I was born to run very fast and win horse races – my name is Lukas. My great-great-grandfather was a famous champion and my owners hoped that I could be like him. I tried very hard to do what they wanted, but my legs weren’t strong enough. Thoroughbreds like me are raced when we’re only two years old, so I got hurt and couldn’t race anymore. My owners found a new stable for me, but when my legs healed I was even slower, so they gave me away to someone else. This owner didn’t want to keep me either, and I went to several other homes which got worse with each move. Finally, I ended up with people who couldn’t feed me and I got very skinny and sad.

One day, a lady drove by and saw me – she felt so sorry for me she offered to buy me. This lady was a trainer and wanted me to be a jumper. I tried my best, but the work was very hard and it hurt my sore legs. She put me up for sale too because she didn’t want to keep a horse who couldn’t win ribbons. I was advertised as a kind and sensitive horse – I was going to another new home, but this time it would be different.

My next owner, Karen, had loved horses since she was a little girl. Her parents were too poor to buy her much, least of all a horse. So, when she grew up, she became a nurse and bought horses with problems, fixed them and found good homes for them. She fell in love with me at our first meeting. I had a lot of bad habits by then and was very wild – I was already nine years old and didn’t know how to behave. It took Karen a long time to gain my trust and attention, but she wouldn’t give up on me. For the first time in my life, I was allowed to be myself and she paid attention to what I wanted.

I had a hard time focusing, so Karen helped me understand lessons using fun games. We played with all sorts of toys and I finally felt like I was special to someone. She gave me choices and showed me how to make the right decisions and I began to learn some very interesting things. Karen saw that I could be good at a lot of things; her belief in me made me feel like I could succeed. I may not have been very fast, but maybe I could be the best at something else.

Karen and I were having so much fun! She used tricks to build my confidence – before long I was able to smile, nod yes, shake my head no, bow, curtsey, step onto my pedestal, wave, pose, pretend to be lame, yawn, kiss her and even give her face a big lick if she asked, Spanish Walk (a high walk), Passage (like skipping), stay and come, lay down, sit, fetch, catch, be blindfolded and rear. What I like best is doing these things out of love for her – Karen lets me be free and doesn’t use any equipment (she doesn’t even own a whip), so people can see that animals can be trained without any force.

Karen could see how much I enjoyed learning and was always trying to come up with new classes for me. Her belief that animals would be treated better if people realized how smart we were – gave her an idea. How much could I really learn? So, together, we explored this – patiently and kindly, Karen showed me different ways to think. I was able to understand many words and lessons and I became very calm and wise. I learned to spell, count, identify shapes, pick a color, put things where Karen asked, and understand same/different, bigger and when something was absent.

Now, I’m very famous – the World Records Academy has recognized me as the World’s Smartest Horse and Guinness has approved me for a world record – “Most numbers identified by a horse in one minute: nineteen.” I’ve been on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN, Inside Edition and the Associated Press and America on Line have done feature stories about me. Karen has talked about me on Pet Talk Radio, Pet Talk Live Radio, Pet Place Radio, Animal Radio and RFD-Radio and I have appeared in newspapers, forums, blogs and newsletters all over the world. I was nominated for the 2010 Equine Vision Award sponsored by Pfizer and American Horse Publications. My web-site has been visited by friends from fifty-one countries (I’m a million hit horse now!) and I have my own book (Playing With Lukas) and Documentary. I have been invited to make appearances all over the country and Karen makes speeches about me too.

But it gets even better – Karen and I donate our time and services to share the happy results of kind training and to show how smart and wonderful animals are for their improved treatment. My favorite is meeting children, so Karen dresses me up in costumes so they can see how fun horses are. And I’m also the Spokeshorse for several rescue organizations and a therapy practice for sick people. The best part – Karen tells me that I am a champion after all.

Copyright 2011 Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse, who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. Owner of PlayingWithLukas.com. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance as well as build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit the horses.

LEARNING WITH LUKAS

Category : Written Words

Lessons From The World’s Smartest Horse
(According to The World Records Academy)

My horse Lukas is a seventeen year old Thoroughbred ex-racer and former rescue. He ran in three races as a two-year-old, injured his legs and left the track. He subsequently changed homes several times and was found starving in a yard and saved by a neighbor. After his rescue, I purchased him as an “Inexperienced project horse.” He had many problems including bucking and spooking and required much patience, but before long his intense focus and driving curiosity began to blossom. After teaching him a broad foundation of liberty (free/loose) movements and tricks, I began to experiment with cognitive and perceptual tasks. When I unfolded his desk, he whinnied, and seeing his toys brought out nickering galore. How much could a horse learn? I decided to find out.

Current Research/Alternatives

According to most animal intelligence ranking scales, equine statistics are dismal: horses rank anywhere from fifth to ninth in intelligence comparisons between species. In addition, the equine population is thought to be a generally reactive group at the mercy of flight instincts and walnut-sized brains. I suspected that the commonly used repetitive machine trials to assess learning capabilities were missing some important components: a social, interactive element, voice prompts (particularly intermediary/leading markers) and reinforcement variations. Furthermore, I decided that the prevailing methods of force training were inadequate and even counter-productive. I decided that Lukas’ lessons would resemble those that we use for children: fun, gentle and a mutual exploration into possibilities.

Techniques

My approach consists of combining three elements to create a powerful and effective training system: shaping, clicker training (substituting whistles and my voice for the click) and positive reinforcement. Shaping is the overall process, the basic foundation. The shaping strategies that I use include capturing (marking and rewarding behaviors that the student offers naturally) and creating behaviors (using cues to elicit desired responses incrementally). The click, having been previously paired with a primary reinforcement – food – to “charge” it, is an indicator that a desirable behavior has occurred. This marks the exact moment of the learner’s maximum effort/performance given current abilities/understanding.

Positive reinforcement energizes the methods and is given on variable schedules to maintain eagerness. Initially, treats are given steadily, then switched to a intermittent routine (i.e. every second or fourth acceptable response) and gradually shift to a random pay-off. This unpredictability of the treat regimen keeps the animal guessing and trying.

In my experience, there are several disadvantages to conventional clicker training: the inconvenience of having to carry something around in my hands, especially when riding, and the time lapse between the behavior and the click which makes it less effective. Also, during clicker sessions there are many lost opportunities for training as the animal frantically and randomly searches in a solitary manner for a behavior to be clicked for. To lead the subject to my target behavior and involve myself in the process, I employ intermediary markers to give the student hints about direction and to link attempts to the desired outcome. This is similar to the hot-cold game we played as kids: a drawn out “aaahh” or “yessss” to indicate a wanted effort or a “uh-uh” to relay a message about an undesirable response.

Training

To maximize the benefits of the lessons, I use no equipment whatsoever (including a whip). All of our activities are freely and jointly engaged in: choice and movement have given him the ability to figure things out on his own, be much attuned to me, and have also caused me to be more aware of my movements and body position. This freedom promotes creativity and initiative, yet he is extremely receptive to re-direction and the prospect of a new game. Creating and capturing are very powerful tools and can double the training results. I can capture (with whistles or my voice) any offered behaviors and then build on them (creating) to fashion elaborate behavioral chains. Lukas’ tricks in themselves are not especially significant – his eagerness, comprehension and anticipation are what make his abilities meaningful and memorable.

Sessions are brief and pleasant, horses need time to absorb new information and the latitude to explore options, and I encourage this. Associating lessons with enjoyment produces quicker learning, better retention and greater generalizations.  In this way, lessons tend to pick up where previous ones ended and is reinforcing not only for the student but for the teacher as well. 

Results

Lukas’ repertoire to date includes the smile, pose, yes, no, kiss, fetch, being blindfolded, catch, yawn, wave, pedestal work, Spanish Walk (high step), stay and come, sit, jambette (three-legged pivot), curtsey, passage (similar to skipping), bow, crossed front legs, lay down, feet all together, hide-and-seek and rear. Much of his acclaim is due to his cognitive abilities: identifying letters, numbers and shapes, discriminating colors, and his grasp of proportion, same/different, spatial relationships, object permanence and absentness. Lukas has been on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN and Inside Edition and in feature stories released by the Associated Press and America Online. Newspapers, forums, blogs and newsletters world-wide have shared his story and his journey has been heard on Horse Talk Radio, Pet Talk Live Radio, Pet Place Radio, All Paws Pet Talk Radio and RFD-Radio among others. The World Records Academy recognized Lukas as the “World’s Smartest Horse,” and Guinness has approved his record “Most numbers identified by a horse in one minute: 19.” Also, Lukas was nominated for the 2010 Equine Vision Award sponsored by Pfizer and American Horse Publications. He is the Spokeshorse for After the Finish Line, an organization dedicated to finding homes for ex-racehorses and he’s been invited to participate in the Wounded Warriors program. 

Written by Karen Murdock, December 2010

http://www.playingwithlukas.com

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Hear Karen Describe Her Horse Training Techniques

Category : Watch Videos

“Everyone is a trainer…”
Watch part 1 of Karen’s speech about her training techniques given at the International CHA Conference