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A tetrathlon (from the numerical prefix "tetra-" meaning four) is a team competition organized by The Pony Club for its members. It is a variant of the modern pentathlon, without fencing. Thus it comprises the four disciplines of shooting, swimming, riding and running.[1][2]

Teams typically consist of four members from one pony club branch competing against several teams from rival branches. Competitions typically take place over two days during the summer months, with shooting and swimming on the first day and riding and running on the second. The competitions are run using volunteers on a non-profit making basis and are often hosted by patrons of the host branch, such as farmers or local land owners.

There are three age categories, known as minimus (8 - 11) junior (12 - 14) and senior (15 - 21). Boys and girls compete separately (i.e. in the same games, but not directly against each other). There is no minimum qualification standard to compete, but contests are only open to active pony club members (i.e. those who have attended at least three rallies that year (training days do not count as rallies)).

At the end of the games, awards (usually in the form of rosettes) are awarded for the top scores in each discipline, for the highest overall scores and for the best team performances in each of the age and sex categories.



Competitors are required to shoot at stationary targets using .177 calibre air pistols from a range of 7 or 10 metres depending on their age. Younger (minimus) competitors are allowed to use two hands while older competitors are allowed to use only one. Ten shots are fired under timed conditions with a maximum of 4 seconds allowed per shot.


Competitors are required to swim freestyle as far as they can in a pool over a fixed time between 3 and 5 minutes depending on age category. Scores are allocated according to distance covered.


Competitors are required to complete a cross-country course including a number of fences (jumps) under timed conditions. The size of the fences ranges from 2 foot 6 inches to 3 foot 6 inches depending on the age category of the competitors. Each course also includes a hazard section, containing a swinging gate which must be opened and closed whilst remaining on horseback, and a slip rail, which riders must dismount and lead their horse through. This element of the course timed and is similar to that found in hunter trials.


Competitors are required to run across-country which might include obstacles under timed conditions. Distances are 1000 metres, 1500 metres and 3000 metres depending upon age category. Runners do not run against each other directly as in a marathon or race, instead start times are staggered at 1 minute intervals.


Tetrathletes may also complete in triathlons (not to be confused with the running, swimming and cycling endurance event of the same name) which include the shooting, swimming and running elements as described above, but not the riding. These tend to be held on a single day during the winter months when weather conditions are less favourable for the equestrian element.


  1. Victoria Aspinall (2006). The complete textbook of veterinary nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 28. ISBN 9780750688475. 
  2. "Sister act!". Dartmouth Chronicle (Tindle Newspapers Ltd). 2009-06-08. http://www.dartmouth-today.co.uk/tn/sport.cfm?id=22692. 

Further reading

  • USPC Handbook and Rules for Tetrathlon Competition. United States Pony Clubs. 


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