"A dog may be man's best friend...but the horse wrote history." -- Author Unknown
As friends and associates will testify, Donna Freyer is quiet and understated. Those traits have worked well for her as she has pursued her goals and dreams.
How a child born in NYC would become a horse fanatic before the age of 5 is still not known but her family moved to the Jersey suburbs in the early 1960’s. A pony was soon in the backyard purchased at the local auction house. Chores were done before and after school. Early signs of her future business began with lessons to neighborhood kids after school and getting the local ladies hunt horses ready in the morning before school.
Hunting and Pony Club were her favorite horse activities and she became the youngest pony clubber to attain the A rating, which is still an elite group, and the youngest to receive the hunt colors of Monmouth County Hunt. At the same time she was the 2nd class of girls accepted to Dartmouth College (that is the class of 1977).
Pony Club had introduced her to 3-day eventing, and discovering world class eventers nearby made it an extraordinary time. One of the highlights was being long listed for 1980 Olympic Team (the one that was boycotted!) and training with the legendary Jack LeGoff. During a prep in Aiken, South Carolina, her horse was unfortunately injured. A job galloping racehorses to make ends meet , introduced her to the racing world. Aiken was in its heyday of the Phipps, Greentree and Rokeby.
As with all her pursuits, she attacked this one with perseverance and resolve. A riding friend from New Jersey recommended that she go to Camden and work for Mr. Frank Whiteley if she ever wanted to do it ‘right.’ Her 1st training license was received in Maryland at Mr. Whiteley’s prompting. Of course, everything that could go wrong with horses did and after having her small stable decimated, she received a job with Tom Waller in New York and a chance to go to Saratoga!
After Mr. Waller retired, she trained in New York for 10 years for Tanrackin Farm, one of the pioneers of the New York breeding program .
Upon Mrs. Waller’s (Tanrackin’s owner) retirement, Donna decided to stay in Camden where Tanrackin had wintered every year (the old fashioned way). Her true love being the day to day training of the horse; a breaking and reconditioning business seemed the perfect fit.
Originally called Custom Care South – the spin-off of a business started in New York, Custom Care Equine has established itself as a consistent producer of solid race horses that continue to perform year after year.
Being in one spot has enabled her to maintain a balance of family and friends, business and community. She has served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Fine Arts Center (which boasts Betty Moran as its biggest benefactor). What she cherishes most is starting the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation of S.C. with horseman Kip Elser. Before it was fashionable to talk about the welfare of race horses upon retirement, they forged an unlikely alliance and launched a campaign to build a farm at the local state prison, Wateree Correctional Facility. It has become a template for all such programs across the county under the name they coined, Second Chances. The horses have new life and the prisoners learn a new skill.
Other accomplishments include starting the S.C. residency races for horses that have spent 90 days training S.C.. The filly division of this race is named after her. As vice president of the S.C. Thoroughbred owners and breeders, she is determined to highlight the horse industry in the state.
One of her core beliefs is that everyone should do what they are good at. That geology degree from Dartmouth might have been more lucrative but she has decided where she belongs.
CLICK TO READ ARTICLE ABOUT DONNA on SheHero.org
CLICK TO READ ARTICLE ABOUT DONNA IN THE CAMDEN HORSE