Wednesday, October 06, 1999

'99 Cosequin Challenge - Tommy and Mellisa Crain, song by Jim Baldwin, DVM

Our trip started on Wednesday morning. We left at about 11 am and drove to Wytheville, Va. where we camped at a KOA for the night. I tried to ignore the fact that we were headed right into the path of Hurricane Floyd. Luckily we didn`t get any rain, just some very gusty winds. we had Mel`s horse, Charbiel, and a mare, Topaz, who we have been training for Pam Wiedel from New Jersey.Pam was coming to the ride to do the 60 on Topaz.We got to the ride site at about 1 PM Thursday afternoon. The camp was located at Virginia Ingram`s wonderful ranch in Fort Valley, Va. We had electric hookups and trees for sun protection. Thursday night there was supposed to be a banquet and introduction of the riders but there were so few people there that we just had dinner and called it a night. Friday was the vet in and weigh in. Our friends , Judy and Doug Sandlin came up to do the60 also and Debi Sanger came from Denver to do the 100 miler. Pam brought a young girl named Jen to ride her other horse, Tee Whiz. Doug and Judy’s crew was not able to come so I had 6 riders to crew for. Oh boy what fun this is gonna be. The 100 started at 4 am and the 60 at 6 am. The first loop for the 100’s was on the road, 15.5 miles all in the dark. When the 100’s left the first VC the 60’s were starting their first loop . All were on the same trail at this point. Needless to say the 2nd VC was a little crowded but there were plenty of vets and PR people to go around so it went smoothly. Mel and Debi did fine at the 2nd VC. Doug, Judy and Jen also did fine at their 1st VC. Pam got pulled because Topaz was lame. One down out of my team. Mel and Debi did fine again at the 3rd VC as did Judy and Jen. Doug’s horses started cramping so he got pulled. Two down. I could see the buzzards circling Team Franklin. I looked up and said,”We ain’t dead yet y’all.” The 3rd loop was the toughest for the 100’s. It had a very steep climb and descent. It took them almost 4 hours to complete this loop. This was also the 2nd loop for the 60’s. Mel and Debi told me this was one of the hardest rides they had ever done. The forth loop was a repeat of the second loop. It was getting late in the day . Jen finished the 60 in about 4th place. This was her first ever ride and she did a great job. Poor Judy got pulled at the last VC for lameness only 5 miles out. Three down. More buzzards. The last two loops for the 100’s was a repeat of the road loop with an away VC 5 miles from camp. Mel missed a turn at almost dark about 1/2 mile from the VC and had to backtrack about a mile. By then it was dark. Charbiel was tired but looked fine to finish. While he was eating during the hold the klieg lights went out so we were really in the dark then. Mel took off and I headed back to camp. Mel and Charbiel crossed the finish line about 9:11. We got the completion thank you and went to the trailer to take care of the horses and get some rest. I tried to stay up for Debi to finish but fell asleep sitting up in the trailer about 12:30. Debi , God bless her , finished in last place, 15th, at 2:30 am.

The awards banquet on Sunday morning was really good complete with a delicious brunch. All the finishers got loads of stuff. Feed supplements, Troxel helmets, pro bi, a certificate for about $180 worth of Cosequin, and hoof dressing. Ride management also had a drawing for lots of other stuff like heart monitors, saddles, and free breeding certificates. This was a great ride. Lots of people have knocked it but you had to be there. We had a wonderful time.

Melissa says:
Charbiel and I finished the Cosequin in 10th place. We`re comin` home in great shape thanks to Tommy and Lanie. Tommy is my ultimate crew who takes care of me and Charbiel! I couldn`t do it without him. Lanie is this wonderful angel who came down from nowhere and often after every vet check and during the hold time baby-sat Charbiel like his mother, getting him to eat, drink and relax. Thank you Lanie! I RODE him this time, went conservative the first loop. It was dark on the road but after that we were able to move on. There were 6 significant climbs, roads, rocks and mountains that just wouldn`t quit.I rode by myself most of the time except the first loop I was with Jan Worthington and Achmed from the U.A.E. , and the 4th loop with Darolyn Butler. I only missed one turn on the 5th loop. I went about 1 1/2 miles and then came back to the trail. It got dark at the last Vet Check so I had to ride the last 5 miles in the dark. About 30 riders started the 100 miler and only 15 finished. there was quite a difference in the finishing times. Danielle Kanavy McGunnigal , the winner, finished about 6 PM. We started at 4 am and I finished about 9 PM in 10th place overall and 9th place FEI. The last horse and rider, Debi Sanger on Novah PR came in about 2:30 am. Virginia and Tracy Ingram and their friend Ski went out of the way to make everyone comfortable, happy and well fed. I can`t wait to go back next year.

Here’s a song by “The Singing Veterinarian”, Jim Baldwin, that he wrote for the AERC National Championship series. I changed the lyrics a bit to fit the Cosequin Challenge.

An endurance rides just another ride
When you’ve ridden several years
From the Old Dominion to the Tevis
They don’t strike too much fear
But let me tell about one
That will chill your very soul
It happens in the mountains
Where it’s high and it’s cold
In Virginia there’s a trail
That’s really hard to beat
It’s where the toughest riders
Gather to compete
The entry fee’s have all been paid
And the horses have been brought
We got a few more comin’
But it starts at 4 o’clock


It’s the Cosequin, the big one
The tough one of the sport
Hey Danielle can you hack it
Has Jedi got the heart
You think your a tough rider
And we’ll find out in the end
When that final miles is over
And Jedi’s back in his pen

2nd Verse

The camp ground is quiet
‘Cept for sounds of people gettin’ ready
And horses millin’ ‘round
I asked the girl next to me
“How fast you goin’ out?
Will you hang back with me
And we’ll leave together with a shout”
Sittin’ on her horse she whispers
“ You better look out cause
I can’t wait till that trail is open
I’m gonna run out through that gate “cause

It’s the Cosequin, the big one
The tough one of the sport
Hey Hassein can you hack it
Has Gym got the heart
You think your a tough rider
And we’ll find out in the end
When that final miles is over
And Gym’s back in his pen

3rd Verse

The trail goes by quietly
So far it’s a breeze
But when you hit that mountain
The trail will start to tease
We’ll start a climbin’ and a climbin’
And climbin’ for the top
But that damned old mountain
Never seems to stop cause

It’s the Cosequin, the big one
The tough one of the sport
Hey Wendy can you hack it
Has Timmy got the heart
You think your a tough rider
And we’ll find out in the end
When that final miles is over
And Timmy’s back in his pen

4th Verse

We had plenty of time a while ago
But now the time is short
An official came by a while ago
And gave us a report
It’s gettin’ hot up on the pass
And the air is gettin’ thick
You need to get down off that mountain
And back down to the creek Cause

It’s the Cosequin, the big one
The tough one of the sport
Hey John can you hack it
Has Billy got the heart
You think your a tough rider
And we’ll find out in the end
When that final miles is over
And Billy’s back in his pen

5th Verse

Shortly before dark
The finish line comes into view
There’s a vet no I think I see two
I know it’s not over yet
I still have to get by Bob Beecher
And he’s a son of a gun of a vet cause

It’s the Cosequin, the big one
The tough one of the sport
Congratulations Danielle
You knew Jedi had the heart
You knew you were a tough rider
And you proved it in the end
When the final mile was over
And that big check’s in your den.

Tommy and Melissa Crain
lyrics by Jim Baldwin, DVM Central Region AERC