At last eventing is embracing technology. Well done to BEDE Events, who run Belton Horse Trials, Osberton, Oasby, Hopetoun, Shelford and new Prestwold Hall Horse Trials, for introducing electronic scoring.
Last year electronic scoring was used at Belton and Osberton Internationals; this year BEDE implemented it at the early event of Oasby, which runs standard classes from BE90 through to Intermediate. And its use is promised at many more events this year.
The system uses ‘real-time’ scores of each phase as they happen and displays results as soon as they are entered. Riders could even get their scores over their smartphones without leaving the horse box.
Yay it’s a win, win situation. Its arrival was much appreciated by riders and owners. Speaking as one who has spent literally hours of life standing by scoreboards, or walking countless times from the box-park to the score board and back, several times during the course of a day, the arrival of electronic scoring can only be a good thing.
It’s always baffled me why scores at some events took so long to appear, even at the higher level one-day events. And it must have been irksome for riders that the showjumping judge knew their horse’s dressage score before they did – announcing it just as they’re approaching the first fence is surely not the best moment.
Worse still, riders often didn’t know their horse’s standing before going cross country. Most competitors are there to compete and not knowing how to run cross-country makes it a hit or miss affair.
Scoring of eventing has always been a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated – that is many of the pay-on-the-gate spectators that smaller events are keen to attract. Watching these people, as I hung about waiting for a score to be posted, I used to feel quite sorry for them.
First they had to find a programme – not easy at smaller events that don’t have programme sellers. Then they would wander over to the scoreboard to find a sheet of names with some sporadic numbers written in various columns.
Generally after about five minutes with a bemused shrug they would wander off, non-the-wiser. As most of these visiting spectators leave around teatime, they also usually went home without knowing who had won. I too have been in this situation at events: 10-hours after starting out in a class, there was still no order of placing. I can’t think of any sports where spectators go home not knowing who has won and, worse still, where participants go home without knowing their placing.
Some events are better than others at getting scores out but I have, on more than one occasion, given up waiting at an event and then waited two days for scores to be posted on line before knowing the final outcome of a class. I cannot be the only one.
It is not before time that electronic scoring has finally come of age in eventing. Not only will riders, owners and spectators be pleased with its arrival but surely it will make life easier for organisers too. No more lost cross country scores or lost dressage sheets holding up the scoreboard. And it has to make the sport more attractive to potential sponsors.
What will we do with the spare time?