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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:27 pm 
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i took this part out of a news letter from horseconscious.
It is nice to read, so i thought i place it over here. Maybe a new experiment for some of us??

DOES LUKAS KNOW HE'S LUKAS?-The World's Smartest Horse Will Experiment with Self-Awareness
Lukas, the World's Smartest Horse (according to the World Records Academy) and Guinness World Record Holder, will participate in an experiment designed to determine his level of self-awareness. Lukas' owner/trainer Karen Murdock was a recent guest on HorseConscious, and this prompted a lively discussion and her further investigation into animal cognition and perception. For a long time, experts have claimed that humans and animals differ in two primary ways: the use of language and the capacity for self-awareness.
For this experiment, Murdock will utilize the mirror test, developed by Gordon Gallup in 1970 (based on observations by Charles Darwin). It determines whether an animal can recognize its own reflection in a mirror as an image of itself. Only humans (after the age of eighteen months), great apes, bottlenose dolphins, orcas, elephants and European magpies have passed the mirror test (Surprisingly, pigs, parrots and pigeons have not conclusively passed the test, to date). This duration of this experiment will be approximately three months.
Interestingly, the Bronx Zoo used eight-foot mirrors in their elephant enclosure to test the pachyderms' responses. Prior to this, small mirrors kept out of reach of the elephants had been used without success. Murdock will borrow this concept, and a four foot by six foot Plexiglas mirror will be used for Lukas' experiment. Lukas will be introduced to his mirror and his response will be gauged. The test will be conducted by covertly marking Lukas with two odorless spots: the test spot will be on a part of Lukas which will be visible in front of a mirror, and the control spot will be in an accessible but hidden part of his body.
A videotaped recording will document if Lukas reacts in a manner consistent with his being aware that the test spot is located on his own body rather than on the mirror, while ignoring the control spot. Indications of awareness will include: turning and moving his body in order to better view the marking in the mirror, or poking at the test marking on his body with his muzzle while viewing the mirror.
If Lukas does not recognize his image initially, Murdock will attempt to teach this to him. No prior access to mirrors and not having the necessary experiences to use them could possibly be a factor in the event ofLukas' non-recognition.
According to most animal intelligence ranking scales, equine statistics are dismal: horses rank anywhere from fifth to ninth inintelligence comparisons between species. In addition, the horse population in general is thought to be a typically reactive group at the mercy of flight instincts and walnut-sized brains. Murdock believes that the commonly used repetitive machine trials to assess horses' learning capabilities are missing some important components: a social and interactive element, voice prompts (particularly intermediary/guiding markers) and reinforcement variations. Furthermore, she proposes that the prevailing methods of force training are inadequate and even counter-productive. In contrast, Lukas' lessons resemble those used for children: fun, gentle and a mutual exploration into possibilities.
Murdock, a psychiatric nurse for the last twenty-six years, and an animal trainer for over forty, will use her own particular blend of techniques, as always. Self-awareness training sessions with her dear friend Lukas will be brief, fun and sequential and will include the following guidance: "That's you in the mirror, buddy. You're a horse. I love you."
For more info, visit Lukas and Karen Murdock at http://www.playingwithlukas.com


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Cool!!! :applause:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:13 am 
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I have been watching Lukas's pictures on facebook too! I don't know if he knows it's him, but he certainly knows it's someone!

His expressions are priceless! :funny:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:56 am 
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BLAST IT!

This will negate any chance the horse innately has self awareness, as romantic and attractive an act it is:

"If Lukas does not recognize his image initially, Murdock will attempt to teach this to him. No prior access to mirrors and not having the necessary experiences to use them could possibly be a factor in the event of Lukas' non-recognition.:"

Teaching will simply show that you can teach a horse to APPEAR to recognize himself.

When a horse chooses to do something, without external motivation, that they have not done before, THAT shows an innate characteristic for that horse.

Why can it not be right, respectful, to allow the horse the dignity of NOT recognizing himself and simply going on with his life without this knowledge?

I guess I'm being reactive probably because of all the indignities I visited on horses in the past and feel guilty of now.

If Bonnie is not self aware it takes nothing from the beauty and wonder I see in her as she gallops about and bucks and kicks and squeals.

If I taught her to be self aware I might produce the same results as the Serpent gave Adam and Eve with it's "Gift.". I do not want Bonnie to wonder what others think of her, only what she feels so directly.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:00 am 
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Donald Redux wrote:
Why can it not be right, respectful, to allow the horse the dignity of NOT recognizing himself and simply going on with his life without this knowledge?

I guess I'm being reactive probably because of all the indignities I visited on horses in the past and feel guilty of now.

If Bonnie is not self aware it takes nothing from the beauty and wonder I see in her as she gallops about and bucks and kicks and squeals.

If I taught her to be self aware I might produce the same results as the Serpent gave Adam and Eve with it's "Gift.". I do not want Bonnie to wonder what others think of her, only what she feels so directly.


I was wondering about just that as well. Is there a reason why horses SHOULD have self-awareness? There are hundreds of intelligence definitions, but one that I particularly like is by evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, who described intelligence as the ability to use knowledge on how things work to attain goals in the face of obstacles. I really like this emphasis on not defining intelligence with regard to solving some abstract task, but as problem solving capacity.

In this light I wonder how meaningful and how beneficial self-awareness would be for horses? Would it help them to overcome difficultuies in their natural environment? If not, is there an evolutionary reason why it should have manifested in their minds, other than creating a cognitive overload leading to new problems without any meaningful benefits?

I don't say it's impossible or shouldn't be investigated. I'm just wondering...


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:40 am 
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Why i had posted over here, i did not even think about what Doland wrote, is that i had seen in the past a documantaire about the same kind of tests they did with several animals.
For example a mirror in front of a chimp, some were scared some did reconise them self and started to eat out of the nose :green: il liked that part :funny: Some did touch the mirror to look what happened.

And i saw they placed a mirror in a dolfin area, some dolfins did reconise themselfs and start to show the belly and make air bubbles which they follow in the mirror.

I was just wondering what horse will do, when you let him free.
I know that there are big mirrors in ridingarenas and most horses have to learn that there is no bear of spooky behind it, before they can pass the mirror in a more relaxed way.

But are they afraid of the movements they see in the mirror, do they see realy an other horse, do they see themselves or what??

I personaly dont look often in a mirror, in the morning i leave without take a look in it. i dont care how i look like.
So a mirror is for me not a object what i need. I know a lot of other people do need it every day.
and even look ours in it before left home. So for some humans it is important how they look like, or how other people look at them.
Just what Donald wrote above.

I was only thinking in what would a horse do? I dont think it is important for them, it is no issue for staying alive.
A mirror dont bring food or water.

Some horse know how they look like or they know they are succesfull. You can see it sometimes in a show-ring. They are proud, they are happy with all the attention, they give a show. I wonder if it is trained, do they realy like it or what??


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:55 pm 
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inge wrote:

[...]

Just what Donald wrote above.

I was only thinking in what would a horse do? I dont think it is important for them, it is no issue for staying alive.
A mirror dont bring food or water.

Some horse know how they look like or they know they are succesfull. You can see it sometimes in a show-ring. They are proud, they are happy with all the attention, they give a show. I wonder if it is trained, do they realy like it or what??


I'm sure by now those here who know me are accustomed to my often looking at the contrary side of issue others discuss.

Consider - horses are very outward focused (a matter of survival, and no long evolution of taking shelter in caves, huts, and the spear circle humans likely used to protect themselves with help - so some could relax and be introspective).

Given this, if my assumption is true, imagine, here they are in an arena with hundreds, possibly even thousands around them, one on their back, they win a round of jumping and the humans (the horse has learned to read by observation) suddenly all express approval, joy, and especially in the same way his OWN human focuses on him to give approval.

Just a thought.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake (who just gave me nice nuzzle on the back of my neck while I was cleaning their yard. She had be playing in the mud apparently. LOL - such a sweet girl)

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Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:06 pm 
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This certainly may not be true for every horse, but the talk of mirrors reminded me...

My trainers barn had a row of mirrors along one side of the dressage ring, huge panels, 8 in total. It was always a trip to see how each horse would react the first time. Checkers thought it was another pony and upon bluffing and putting her ears back, she shied sideways when the other "pony" pinned it's ears accordingly. ;)

Diego was led into the ring and just stopped and stared - then started calling to it! Upon up-close investigation he kept peeking under the panels to see why this "horse" didn't have any legs. :funny:
Unfortunately I'm not sure either one of them knew it was an image of themselves, though over time Diego go used to it and quite comfortable studying the other image.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:10 pm 
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We don't have any mirrors anywhere, but the horses do catch glimpses of themselves in the windows of the barn and tack room. Josie and Selene notice, but really don't show much response. They are just more concerned with getting to where they are going, getting food etc.

Comet on the other hand is very disturbed by the image. He spooks, shies, can't focus. I was trying to feed him some cookies and minerals in a pan, and the only dry spot was right beside a window. He just couldn't do it~and nothing is more important to him than food! Had to move the pan so he was facing away from it :funny: My big tough guy!

It is yet another thing that I will eventually have to help him get accustomed too if he does decide that he is going to be a riding horse. He is awfully suspicious of EVERYTHING!

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