Richard Albrecht lives in a beautiful log cabin at the south end of Clove Valley, which he built in the mid 1970s. His wife Betty is a first rate cook and works over at the local hunting club during the season. His daughter Erica and son in law live next door where she has a very successful riding school for youngsters.
Rich grew up in Poughkeepsie and Red Hook and went to Arlington High School. His first job was working on a farm over in Stormville and later worked for Ralph Conner at Tymor Farm. He was a carpenter by trade but early on got interested in horses and decided to become a farrier. In those days they still used coal to make and heat the horseshoes. I don’t know whether he would have kept at it if he hadn’t gotten lucky. Someone dropped out of a program at Cornell University taught by Buster Conklin, I guess about the most famous farrier anywhere. Conklin only had two students for six months and Rich was one of them. Before he passed away Conklin had taught over 100 farriers. At the end of his time working at Cornell, there wasn’t much about the trade that Rich didn’t know well. In the last few years Rich had his knees replaced which has slowed him down a little but he still has about 150 horses in and around Dutchess County that he regularly shoes.
He has a custom made truck with a whole shop in it including an anvil and a propane rig to heat and shape the shoes. The story of the truck is interesting. Rich met a man from Upstate Genoa New York and told him what he wanted in the custom truck. The guy made the truck for him and then got into the business of making custom trucks for farriers. He’s now made over 400 and turned it into a good business.
Before I spent some time with him, I didnt know much about horseshoeing but after a few hours I got the idea that there was nothing simple or easy about the trade. Maybe that’s why there aren’t more of them around. What I also met was a man who loves what he is doing. When he talked about the special tools or the way to break off a nail and cleat it over he had an enthusiasm and professionalism you don’t often find in the guys who makes their livings behind a desk.
I really enjoyed talking about Clove Valley when he first got there and friends we had in common. I’m pretty sure I have a few years on Rich although I didn’t ask, maybe he justs looks younger because he is working with horses every day instead of getting stung by bees.
Another interesting thing came out of our meeting. I posted some information I think last week about the woman who wrote Daddy Longlegs, Jean Webster. Her farm was Tymor Farm, now the town park, Well my father told me that there was a Webster family that owned the farm and had been very successful because the father or maybe grandfather was Mark Twain’s publisher. I’d never been able to confirm it and never saw it written down anywhere but it turns out that Richie Albrecht when he was a kid working for Ralph Conner at Tymor had to take a whole load of Mark Twain books left by the Webster family over to give to a library in Poughkeepsie. So I now have word of mouth proof.
I’ll post some pictures above so you get an idea what I’m writing about.