Millennium Star - FEI Star

Tasmanian FEI 3* 160km, Sassafras TAS, 2008


Millenium Star and Sonia Hodgetts

Tasmanian FEI 3* 160km Endurance Ride, July 2008
Photo: Matt Bennet Photography

I must've had had rocks in my head as I was on the organising committee for this ride as well as entering as a rider in the 3* FEI 160km ride at Sassafras, on the North West coast of Tasmania.  It meant that I was flat out with all the last minute jobs and it only dawned on me late Friday night that Star was doing his biggest ride so far the next day!!  I was also quite concerned as the regulations say that to ride in an FEI ride, the minimum rider weight with saddle is 75kgs.  This meant I had to borrow a 10kg lead weighted saddle blanket, which I had only received less than a fortnight before the 160km ride.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before!!
Prior to the start all horses were nervously milling around for about 15 minutes as our gear was checked. Our ride officially began at 5am with a mass start.  I often have trouble keeping Star calm at the start but he was relaxed and once the ride began with a clatter of hooves as the front runners departed in a hurry, he was very cruisy, in fact he was on a loose rein for the first 8kms!  
Overall, I was very very happy with the way we travelled over the day's event.  He ate and drank well, and thanks to a helpful tip from a long time endurance competitor, we have finally managed to get him to take his electrolytes happily.  The magical ingredient?  Mix it with banana topping - he chases me for it now instead of doing his best giraffe impersonation!
There were only 8 out 21 entrants who completed the 160km.  There was a high rate of attrition in this event, as although the course was generally flat going, there were quite a lot of gravel roads, which made the course concussive over a long distance.  I wasn't out to win or beat any speed records, all I'd hoped for was to complete the 160km under the time limit of 15 hours.  Our finishing time of 13.13 hours was better than I'd expected, and we managed 7th Open rider.  Our average speed was only 12km per hour, which is a bit slower than novice times, but I was very happy with Star and his recovery the day after.


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