What is Tetrathlon?
Tetrathlon (numerical prefix “tetra” - meaning four) is a team and individual competition organised by the Pony Club for its members. It comprises Shooting, Swimming, Running and Riding. It is a variant of, and major recruiting ground for the Olympic sport Modern Pentathlon.
Competition levels progress with age. The Shoot involves shooting with air pistols at targets between 7 and 10 metres, the Swim is the distance swum in 2 to 4 minutes, the Run is normally cross country over a distance of between 1000m and 3000m, and the Ride is over a cross country course, the most exhilarating phase for many.
Tetrathlon was introduced by the Pony Club in 1969 as a way of keeping Boys interested in the Pony Club. Today the number of Girls competing outnumbers Boys by a factor of roughly 2:1.
Many Branches arrange year round Tetrathlon training sessions and competitions as a precursor to Area Competitions, generally held in June and July, from which the strongest teams and individuals go forward to the annual Tetrathlon Championships. Junior and Senior International competitions are also arranged in June and August respectively, with teams representing English Regions, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales and Borders competing for top honours. In 2018, Boys and Girls teams travelled to the USA for a three week exchange, and in 2020 we will be hosting an exchange for teams from Australia, the USA, Canada and Ireland.
Classes are arranged as follows:
- Open (25 and Under)
- Intermediate (25 and Under)
- Junior (14 and Under)
- Minimus (11 and Under)
- Tadpoles (9 and Under)
- Beanies (7 and Under)
Tetrathlon punches well above its weight in terms of fun, inclusiveness, team ethos, training, parties, voluntary parent involvement, International competitions and exchanges, the development of enduring, geographically widespread friendships and the commitment until the last minute possible of many senior Pony Club members. An “embarrassment” of ex-Tetrathletes have gone on to represent their country.
How Do I Get Involved?
Tetrathlon is well-represented across Pony Clubs in the UK, so have a chat with your Branch/Centre to see what events they have coming up. If your club doesn't offer Tetrathlon, don't worry - speak to your local Area Coordinator and you can still take part!
If you're a non-riding member (or just want to focus on the non-riding sections), you can still get involved by competing in The Pony Club Winter Triathlon. With sections starting from 8 years old, it's a great introduction to Tetrathlon.
How Do I Progress Further?
Tetrathlon offers a number of great opportunities for members wanting to progress in the sport:
- The Pony Club Tetrathlon Championships, held annually in August, sees hundreds of members from across the UK competing each year
- Royal Windsor Horse Show hosts a national Tetrathlon competition each year, with eight regions represented
- The Pony Club Tetrathlon Exchange is an invitational competition each year, where members are selected to represent the UK and visit a host country to compete against other nations
Former Pony Club tetrathletes have also enjoyed success elsewhere. Kate Allenby won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Modern Pentahlon, while Laura Deas swapped her horse for a bobsled and won skeleton bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics!