| The Hoot
A Jack of All Trades
Petra Bethea conquers several sports in one as
a participant in the modern day pentathlon.
Running. Shooting. Swimming. Fencing. Horseback riding. Freshman
equestrian student Petra Bethea does it all.
That’s because she is a competitor in modern day pentathlons—a sport that
requires competitors to be proficient in all five sports.
Bethea began her riding career at 4 years old on a Shetland pony named
Piccolo—a small chestnut pony with a white star on her face.
She was really sweet until you tried to trot,” Bethea laughed. “Then she was
all for dumping you.”
But even being a 4-year-old on a miniature bucking bronco, Bethea was never
deterred from riding horses. Instead, she transitioned from her Shetland to
racing horses – mostly off-the-track Thoroughbreds.
As she grew, she started working with her mom retraining and selling the
Thoroughbreds at their family farm. She also became involved with the
modern day pentathlon when she joined the Pony Club in seventh grade.
The Pony Club is a nation-wide organization that utilizes local clubs to breed
well-educated equestrian youth.
While in the Pony Club, she found out about tetrathlons, which are similar to
pentathlons except they don’t include fencing. It peaked Bethea’s
interest, both because of the horseback riding and her friend’s involvement.
For Bethea, it came easy.
When we were in elementary school, my best friend and I would go run the
k runs just for fun,” she said. “We wouldn’t even train. We would just do it.
We were crazy.”
Throughout middle school, Bethea ran cross-country, and in high school she
took on swimming and track—all in addition to riding. She learned how to
shoot from her brothers.
I would usually go to practice and then come and ride every day,” she said.
There was a lot of time management, but it wasn’t that hard. I was always
good with school so it wasn’t that bad.”
Bethea attributes her time management skills to her laid-back personality – a
trait she says she gets from her father.
I think the only way I can do this stuff is because I don’t get stressed about
things and it makes it easier.”
Two years ago, Bethea started participating in pentathlons after she began
winning tetrathlons at the national level. Bethea says her advantage is the
By Dani Moritz
Bethea poses with Dillon, a WWU school horse in the dressage
Photo by Rebekah Savage)