Near the beginning of Horse Master, you learn the position of "Horse Master" comes with tenure.
Successful navigation through the challenges of Horse Master will transform you into a Horse Master, free from work and worry. Above the "cash-based economy" lies a life of leisure and Horse Mastering unconstrained by economic need. For a shot at this freedom, you have taken out several enormous loans.
It's easy to forget the financial sacrifices you've made while you go about the business of raising your horse. The horse must be fed. You are addicted to drugs. The horse must be trained. The cable goes out. The horse must be groomed. You are evicted from your apartment.
The decisions you've made seem desperate. Why are you desperate? If you fail to become a Horse Master, what is left for you? Will it confirm what you know? You're supposed to be something you can never be. How is that possible? People will judge the results of your careful horse development and training. Will they find your horse work lacking? Your father was not found lacking. He built a Horse Master legacy, though not one strong enough to spare you from the risk of failure.
How can you risk so much when you know what the outcome will be? No matter what happens, what trials, what victories you go through, it will still be you and your horse emerging on the other side.
And you are no Horse Master.
You have choices in Horse Master when it comes to your horse. You choose the breed and you choose its diet. You choose daily which shampoo to use on your horse's silky mane. You can even specialize your horse by electrically stimulating certain muscle systems. Though really, how important are these details to you? The results are binary: are you a Horse Master by the end?
If the answer is no, your work and specialization seems pointless. Who cares which horse muscle systems you've developed? Outside the Horse Master ring, most people can't appreciate the gloss of your horse's silky mane. You've honed your craft and skill within a fragile system of value that is not required to value you back. It may even be in the best interest of those in the ring to have as few people in the ring as possible.
Why keep the Horse Masters separate
Imagine you were allowed to mingle with the Horse Masters before your time came. Their lifestyle would shock you with its excess. Decadent parties, ultra-expensive horse treats. Could you discuss the trials of funding and raising a horse with someone who could help you, but chooses not to? While you and people you know have concrete immediate needs, the Horse Masters have endless resources to expend unnecessarily. What at one financial scale seems like minor waste or inefficiency at another scale seems cruel. You don't want to be around Horse Masters, and they don't want to be around you.
Congratulations, you're a Horse Master. Everyone is impressed. You're impressed too. Your new house is enormous. Your new horse is enormous. Your new friends have enormous things too.
But you get used to the scale of things. Your house starts to seem house-sized. Your horse seems horse-sized. You settle into routine. You're living where you're supposed to live and doing what you're supposed to do.
So of course the rituals and social niceties, the training and the specialization, they all seem valuable to you. Those are the things that gave you what you have. The people who can't seem to get into the Horse Master ring obviously shouldn't be there. They don't have what it takes to Master Horses.
Malcolm Gladwell says "the smartest man in the world" missed out on academia because growing up in poverty gave him "poor social skills."* It would never occur to a Horse Master that the Horse Master ring misses out on gifted Horse Masters because of expectations for socialization, emotional stability and acceptance of the class values assumed by Horse Masters. To an economic outsider, it's hard to sit still at the Horse Ceremonies while you're viscerally aware of the needs going unmet to fund ritual waste. To someone traumatized by figures in authority, the limitations of perspective caused by holding power seem pronounced.
Horse Master, while stronger than its previous iteration, not playing Horse Master, is not as good as its next installment, not playing Horse Master anymore
In Horse Master you can't meet that special someone. You can't move to another country and never hear your native language again. Your character refuses to fix typewriters for a living or play the bass. These are all flaws in Horse Master. You can't live off the grid in a yurt. You can't learn to speak Tagalog. You can do something you don't like to impress people who don't like you. In this deeply flawed game, you can't improve your ability to focus or tell a story. You can't design a video game in private, bring it to its audience, allow them to slaughter the experience, then hope for their approval. In Horse Master you cannot find the approval within yourself, in the horses you love, or in the simple joy of horse riding.***Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers Chapter who cares Page don't bother
**CAUTION: NEVER RIDE A HORSE