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The ‘world’s smartest cow’ has strong boundaries and knows what she wants

A Nebraska cow has earned herself a Guinness World Record for her ability to perform rapid-fire tricks in exchange for tasty treats and vigorous head scratches.

Ghost the cow set a Guinness record for performing tricks. Her trainer says she has 'strong opinions'

A white cow in a field.

A Nebraska cow has earned herself a Guinness World Record for her ability to perform rapid-fire tricks in exchange for tasty treats and vigorous head scratches.

Ghost, a four-year-old Charolais cow, performed 10 tricks in 60 seconds in March, earning the Guinness title for most tricks performed by a cow in one minute.

"She's pretty excited," Ghost's trainer, Megan Reimann, told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

"I think her head's getting a bit big right now, but she's trying to stay normal and not get too full of herself."

'Just so shiny and nice'

Reimann usually trains horses on her Sheridan County, Neb., property. But when she first met Ghost, she just fell in love.

"I'd gotten Ghost as a couple-day-old calf to raise on a bottle, and she was just so shiny and nice that I thought it would be fun to do something special with her," she said.

A white cow perches its front legs on a pallet while a woman stands nearby with harness.

So how do you train a cow?

"I train the horses and the cows — and I hope my children and husband — using positive reinforcement. That just means that they get rewarded with something they like for everything they do that is what I want them to do," Reimann said.

For Ghost, that means scratches or cookies.

"That makes training a lot of fun for her and for me," she said. "Teaching her to give kisses, for example, when she brings her nose up close to my face, she gets a cookie in return. That means she wants to give lots more kisses."

Kissing is just one trick in Ghost's record-setting repertoire. The others included staying in place, coming when called, spinning, bowing, doing a fish-bump/leg lift, standing on a pedestal, stepping into a lasso, touching a bell and nodding her head as if to say "yes."

WATCH | Ghost the cow does 10 tricks in 1 minute:

It helps that Reimann and Ghost have a close bond.

"She's very much my cow,"the trainer said. "She'll occasionally take some treats from the children, but if anybody else gets close to her, she has no interest and wants to leave."

And if she wants to leave, that's exactly what she'll do. In fact, the strong-willed cow tends to whatever she pleases.

"She has strong opinions," Reimann said. "She has no qualms about saying no, to leave or just refuse if she's not happy about things."

Not only does she have no trouble drawing boundaries, but she's also great at advocating for herself.

"She knows her worth and she's not afraid to tell everybody else. She makes sure that everybody knows what she wants and that she's going to get whatever she wants and they better move out of her way," Reimann said.

"She loves to be scratched and she's more than happy to put whatever part she wants scratched right in your face and demand that you take care of her desires."

A smiling woman stands in a field next to a white cow while holding up a certificate with the Guinness World Records logo.

Since Ghost set the record, several headlines have dubbed her the world's smartest cow, an assessment Riemann agrees with.

But she says she has also trained some other cows, and they're actually easier to work with than horses.

"I find they're actually more enthusiastic about the training than the horses. Maybe because we do ride horses sometimes, and that's work. And with the cows, all I ever do is play, and they enjoy that and really look forward to our training together," she said.

She admits she did initially plan to ride Ghost, which is not an unheard of practice, but it didn't quite work out.

"She loves to run and buck and has her own opinions about where she's going to go and what she's going to do. And I'm getting old. I don't really like to fall off," she said.

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