Fritz Albright, Wright Road Stables
I first met Fritz about 10 years ago when I moved to Carmel and began frequenting Joe’s Butcher Shop, where he was our main butcher man (unofficial title, of course). Always friendly and quick to start a conversation, often times we would talk about his horses. Recently he retired, but I think you’ll notice a trend among the subjects in this project: retirement ≠ slowing down.
Fritz and his wife Sally now dedicate their time to breeding race horses. Their love for the animals was always evident from our conversations, and documenting Fritz working with them only solidified that observation. I was also impressed by their stewardship for their land. They don’t use any chemicals on their property, which means Fritz hand-weeded 10 acres of land over a 2-year period when they first purchased the property.
There are many variables and uncertainties when working with animals, and I feel that I should point out that in order to make this a successful operation, Fritz spent years studying the business before buying their first horse. Passion and knowledge of the business has combined to create a successful endeavor for the Albrights.
The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.
1) Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.” In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?
I like the term “life’s work” best and think that breeding and raising thoroughbreds is work that will keep us inspired for as long as we wish. Every spring, we have one or two foals and in just three years, one could be running in the Kentucky Derby! If you can dream, dream big!
2) When did you first realize that this was your calling?
In 1975 I was dating my now wife, Sally, and she wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, which I never had attended. We went and that is when I fell in love with both! I had raised a lot of different animals in my youth, mostly to sell for meat, but never horses. After my two sons graduated from college, I started to read books about thoroughbreds and breeding, and their part in history, which is mind-boggling. With the use of the computer, I can trace my mares and stallions back to England and the Crusades, when they realized the speed of the Arabian horse. Breeding and racing is perhaps the greatest puzzle on earth, thus the challenge!
3) People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling. This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.” When do you experience this most often?
Easy. In late fall and throughout winter months, with the cold, the rain, and driving snow, I can be grumpy about facing the elements, but as soon as the nickering of the horses start, my heart fills with warmth, knowing they count on me. Other times after long drives and workdays, when all of my body hurts, my pain and all my troubles of the day go away as I begin to head down to feed. An older gentleman, Bob Stomm, who I purchased some of my mares from was always fond of saying, “The greatest thing is I can talk to them and they never talk back.”
4) What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?
Obstacles are everywhere. First of all, everyone thinks you are nuts, so we were pretty much on our own, buying the right mares, stallion, some yearlings, to get homebreds to track from gestation on can take four years. The biggest obstacle is money, plain and simple! Another “Bob Advice”… Do not buy a big new truck and horse trailer, the money goes toward the horses, and hard work done ourselves is the way to do things. The Thoroughbred Owners Handbook was a great tool, also. The first six chapters were dedicated to taxation and encouraged us to set up our business, Wright Road Stables, LLC. We were forewarned that seeing a profit in this business could take six years, so setting up the LLC helped us in receiving tax refunds, which helped us with our operating costs.
5) What has pursuing your
Personal Legend “life’s work” taught you?
I do like the term “life’s work” because this work is never finished and one has to be patient, for good things will come. Although it has incredible highs, the lows can be the lowest, and you have to make it through both, for the highs can destroy also.
6) What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?
Once that you know you love something, go slow and learn all you can before jumping in with both feet. Don’t let money rule your decision. The scariest story I ever read was from Walter Mitty, “being the richest person in the cemetery” does not interest me, either. Have good partner. I don’t like the term “Personal Legend” as this not what it is all about. It’s playing a game called life in your own terms.
Are you following your Personal Legend? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days. For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.