Pammy Hutton: Should we use robots as judges? *H&H VIP*


  • I hear job applicants in China are now often “interviewed” by robots. So if, say, 200 apply, the robots whittle them down to a shortlist of six, who then have second interviews by humans.

    How long before dressage is judged by robots? And would it be such a bad thing? After all, technology is already making judgements in sports like football and tennis.

    Recently, an eventing pupil of mine had a 16% difference of opinion in their dressage score. Then I had an 11% discrepancy from European-based international judges at a Premier League show. I care not if I was accused of hastening Brexit by making my views known, because a 68%, a 67% and a 57% means — in simple terms — really quite good, quite good and hopeless.

    Robots in the judges’ box would be consistent at least. And they wouldn’t be influenced by a “name” either.

    Harmony is imperative

    The latest bee to get in my bonnet is a concern about rhythm, the first and all-important scale of training.

    On occasions, I have spied some irregularities, along with the much-hated “flicky toes” syndrome. Should either gain marks?

    I may be old-fashioned, but I want to see the beauty of dressage maintained, as exemplified by the master that is Carl Hester. Mind you, Gareth Hughes is close on his heels and how long before the partnership of Vicki Thompson-Winfield and Artist vies for our top team?

    Ease and harmony are still imperative, surely?

    Don’t avoid the outdoors

    The rain came down at a recent show and many competitors’ hands slipped on the reins (no pun intended). But not mine. My hands stayed put.

    I wear my old cross-country gloves, and today’s manufacturers’ would do well to learn from them, because they beat the modern dressage gloves hands down (pun intended) when it rains.

    Even the most immaculate arena surfaces can collect puddles. So those who rarely ride outdoors, or avoid riding in wind and rain, are in danger of becoming unable to cope with the less than perfect.

    80 is the new 60

    Linda Whetstone’s re-election as chairman of British Dressage “at her age” (76 by the way) has led to me having a row or several.

    I voted for Linda as her leadership has brought a sense of peace and she’s excellent in the role. Experience and specific skills are the essential attributes. And if a brain works, it works.

    Age is only a problem because people notice when you’re old. Years lived is no longer a requirement for one’s CV, yet a judge asked me my age as I left an arena recently. It was certainly more flattering when a commentator announced he wanted some of my pills.

    Anyway, 80 is the new 60. And by the time you read this, I will have ridden down the centre line at Hickstead CDI — thrilled to be competing at my first international for years. Why? Because I qualified, so I can — even if I did have to phone a friend to understand the floorplan for two new tests in the middle tour. Age doesn’t matter if one can do the job.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 25 July 2019