To quote "The Theme From Mr. Ed": "A horse is a horse, of course, of course."
But that blanket statement is simply not fair to a 17-year-old thoroughbred gelding in Chino Hills, Calif., who is being touted as the smartest horse in the world for the many amazing feats he's been able to master: 35 in all.
His name is Lukas and, although he doesn't talk like Mr. Ed or Francis the Talking Mule, his owner and trainer, Karen Murdock, believes he should be given full credit for his high equine IQ.
"He's able to count and discern different shapes. To my knowledge, he's the only horse who can do this," Murdock said. "He can also spell his name, my name and, because my husband pays for all the food and the stable, he insisted that Lukas learned to spell his name, 'D-O-U-G.' "
Spelling is a pretty cool skill for a horse, but even more amazing, she said, is his ability to know the difference between objects that are the same and those that are different, those that are bigger or smaller than others and a concept called "absentness."
"Lukas knows when something is missing, and that is a skill that was previously only detected in primates and parrots," Murdock said.
Other tricks include the ability to pretend that he is lame (the equine version of faking a doctor's note), nodding "yes" and shaking his head "no," and curtsying.
As you might expect, Murdock, a retired psychiatric nurse, said the fact that Lukas is smarter than the average horse -- or bear -- has implications on the whole animal kingdom.
"I do believe animals are smarter than we give them credit for," Murdock said.
It's incredible that Lukas ever got a chance to show off his smarts since his life resembles a horse version of "Good Will Hunting," with Lukas in the Matt Damon role as the underachieving genius who never gets the chance to demonstrate his smarts.
He ran in three races as a 2-year-old and bowed both front tendons. After leaving the racetrack, he changed hands several times over the following years and ended up neglected and emaciated in a backyard.
"The woman I bought him from saw Lukas while she was driving by and was just filled with pity," Murdock said. "He was skin and bones and his tail was basically dried mud. The owners had never owned a horse before and didn't know how to deal with him."
Like many geniuses, animal and humans, Lukas has his quirks.
"He definitely has his opinions, and he's definitely sensitive, observant and empathetic," Murdock said. "He just has a particular way of being asked to do something before he'll do it."
Lukas was 8 before he met his match with Murdock, but she said she gradually won him over through a program emphasizing patience and positive reinforcement.
"Some people become more demanding when they're not getting results, but when you try to look out for other people's best interests, great things happen," she said.
Although Murdock doesn't remember having a moment with Lukas akin to one in the movie "The Miracle Worker," where Helen Keller finally understands the sign for water after Anne Sullivan signs it for her while holding her hand underwater, she does admit that once Lukas started learning, he couldn't stop.
"When it comes to learning and absorbing new things, he's insatiable," Murdock said. "He's grasping cognitive and perceptual concepts at a faster rate all the time."
And with all this learning comes the attention. Although Lukas is a mature 17, it is only in the last eight months that his incredible horse sense has been recognized by the outside world. Murdock started posting videos of him being, well, intelligent and they have become a YouTube sensation, leading to TV appearances as far away as New Zealand.
He's also in demand as a celebrity of sorts (of course, of course), doing personal appearances such as one this weekend at America's Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, Calif., the world's largest pet and pet product expo.
In the process, Lukas has been given the unofficial title of "world's smartest horse," but Murdock is hoping to make it official by having the folks at Guinness World Records bestow the honor on him.
"I made contact there, but I haven't heard back," Murdock said. "I'm not sure if it will happen because they don't have many horse records in the book."
A Guinness spokeswoman said that while Murdock's applications for Lukas to be declared the "World's Smartest Horse" have been rejected, he is being considered for the category "Horse that does most liberty tricks," which are tricks done without being harnessed.
No word on how Lukas feels about this or anything else since, sadly, when AOL News requested an interview, he said, "Neigh."