Elke Albrecht 2017
My name is Elke Albrecht and I have been involved with horses since a young age. I started with leadline classes at the age of three and progressed to competing at local shows near my hometown of LaGrangeville, NY, both in Western and English with my little pony named Sadie. I participated in Pony Club and then went on to compete in Eventing for about ten years with a horse named Buddy. The horses always came first and I was very dedicated to their care getting up early to feed and muck stalls before school then grooming and riding in the evenings. I later attended Springfield College in Massachusetts and earned a B.S. in Exercise Science where I also rode for the college’s Hunter/Jumperquestrian team and completed a semester abroad in Australia.
As I got older life took me in a bunch of different career directions and states as I moved to Colorado and then back to the western part of Massachusetts but horses and riding always remained a hobby for me. In 2012, I was lucky to have the opportunity to return back into the horse industry and worked as a groom for Orleton Farm in Stockbridge, MA. This is an elite carriage driving barn and I assisted with the care of nine German warmbloods and eight Welsh driving ponies. We traveled to many shows on the east coast and to Canada.
Unfortunately, in 2013 I went through a difficult divorce, lost my house and had to leave my job to relocate back to NY to live with family due to lack of
finances. I spenta year trying to find another job with no success. Eventually I landed a part time job at a florist shop to help pay some of my expenses but remained living with family because I could not afford rent elsewhere. It is a very humbling experience to go through, losing everything and having to start over in your late thirties.
On my days off I decided to help my father with his farrier business. He graduated from Cornell University farrier program and has been a farrier for thirty-three years. Now in his seventies he was looking for an apprentice to lighten his daily workload a bit. At first it was just handling horses, picking feet, sweeping up and packing up the tools in the truck but before long I was pulling shoes, trimming and doing finishing work. I realized I really enjoyed the work and had a natural way with horses having grown up with them.
This career was right in front of my face all this time but I never considered myself ever being able to do it. But as more than two years past, I seriously considered it and the financial independence that this field would allow me again. So I started researching farrier schools to attend and decided on Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, CA. I quit my part time job at the florist shop and in Dec. 2016 flew out to CA from NY and spent the next eight weeks working as hard as I could, learning as much as I could about being a farrier. It was a well rounded program including the Anatomy and Conformation of the horse, forging and the practical application of
shoeing. Bob Smith and his talented instructors made this school a great fit for me, and it was an excellent complement to the skills I had acquired already working with my father. I ended up graduating with the second highest overall score out of fifteen classmates which I was pretty proud of. I really proved to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to and it gave me the confidence to believe in myself again.
So even though I have become a farrier later in life I feel that one of my goals is to really encourage women to enter this field and be a role model. I have worked with a few Girl Scout groups in the area doing a trimming demo at a local barn where they were participating in getting their horsemanship badge. I hope to inspire some future women farriers and to expose them to this field and the opportunities it has to offer. My other goal is to continue to work with my father and expand the business eventually taking over in the next few years when he decides to retire. I hope to achieve this by working hard and doing the best possible job with every client. I feel I truly have a passion for helping horses and love working with them and that comes across in the quality of work I do.
In my spare time I also enjoy making horseshoe art by reusing old horseshoes and welding them together to make new items such as decorative wreaths, coat racks, Christmas trees, wine racks, pumpkins and napkin holders. I enjoy being creative with the designs and reusing something that would otherwise be thrown away. I have sold quite a few items to our regular shoeing clients and have started selling them also at a local horseshow which is a great marketing tool.
I am very honored to have received the scholarship and will use the check awarded to me toward my tuition expenses for farrier school. Sometimes life doesn’t go as you originally planned but sometimes you get a second chance to do something you were truly meant to do. Don’t let that opportunity pass by, grab it and don’t look back!