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