I was recently introduced to Lukas, a beautiful chestnut gelding labeled possibly "The Smartest Horse In the World". Well, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about him.(Ad from California Horse Trader Magazine).
Lukas now 16, is a rescued off-the-track thoroughbred who had bowed both tendons as a young horse preparing for a life of racing. The injuries precluded him from ever seeing the starting gate in a race. Lukas changed hands a few times and at one point was malnourished before finding his trainer and owner, Karen Murdock. Lukas came into Karen's life when he was around 10 years of age. "I was only hoping to show him in a few lower level tests". "Put a few tricks into him and sell him to a good home", however Lukas had other ideas. And so a partnership based on mutual respect and rewards begun. They have been learning together for the past 6 or 7 years.
I watched in awe of a "Playing With Lukas" video on YouTube that shows Lukas identifying colors, shapes, and catching a rag being tossed towards his face. Horses would not normally want something flying around their head, so the level of trust is shown with just the simple act of his catching the towel. Lukas is motivated by carrots and responds throughout the video to patience, reassuring words, subtle hand gestures, clicks and smooches from Karen. All the while looking for that next delicious carrot.
Karen and Lukas want to focus on spreading the word that horses have a great deal of potential beyond the race track, and those facing bleak futures. "People everywhere mention to me that they didn't realize a horse could understand things like Lukas is able to". Lukas is able to perform at-liberty high level dressage moves to walking on his own down a driveway to play hide and seek with a towel. "If people know horses are smart, they are less likely to hurt them" says Karen. "It's a way for us to communicate and have fun together".
Karen Murdock is happy to offer Lukas and his talents to non profit groups and isn't looking to make a profit from the time and patience it's taken to build the bond between horse and owner. Karen says "I am just happy to be putting good out into the world".
To learn more about Lukas he has his own website at http://www.playingwithlukas.com/ The video showing Lukas at work is http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=PlayingWithLukas&view=videos To contact Karen directly regarding Lukas firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Doug and Karen Murdock for sharing Lukas with The Second Race, he is certainly the Poster Boy for this organization and the work it hopes to do for other horses in the future.