MAS­TERY ... AND FAIL­URE

EQUUS - - Conformation Insights -

Mas­ter horse­man Tom Dor­rance likened horse­back hack­ers to mu­si­cians who play by ear, rather than by read­ing and play­ing ev­ery note— in­clud­ing the dif­fi­cult ones. Hack­ers whis­tle the same tunes they al­ready know, over and over; they don’t want to ex­ert the ef­fort that it takes to ex­plore new ar­eas that they will in­evitably be “bad” at (at first), and their ego faints at the pos­si­bil­ity of on­look­ers see­ing their clumsy ini­tial at­tempts. Yet the only path to suc­cess leads through fail­ure. The mas­ter de­lib­er­ately in­cor­po­rates nov­elty; I am cer­tain I never saw Tom Dor­rance take the same ap­proach to com­mon horse­man­ship dif­fi­cul­ties twice. He al­ways spoke of “vari­a­tion within the vari­abil­ity,” and nov­elty is cer­tainly needed, es­pe­cially these days when it is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to legally ride across open land. It takes un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion and the ap­pli­ca­tion of el­bow grease and all the smarts and cre­ativ­ity the horse owner has to keep arena rid­ing from be­com­ing bor­ing—which is what the hacker’s path ul­ti­mately is.

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