We had the good fortune of connecting with Donna Cece and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donna, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I feel there is no growth without taking risks. I had a successful career as a surgical orthopedic PA but my passion has always been horses. After being a rescue worker in NYC in Sept 11 I decided that life was too short and I was going to follow my passion and real dream of owning a horse business. I came to Arizona where I had some family and worked for the previous owner of my business as a wrangler taking a substancial paycut The risk was woth it I proved I was worthy of taking over and when he was retiring he gave me the opportunity to buy the business.
I felt that the business had not been run well and he had a substancial amount of debt, but the business had been well known and had operated for 17 years so in order for me to start I had to start a whole new business with a new name, there was a risk involved that it would not be recognizable and that people would resist the change. But we have been very successful!
Lastly taking the risk of trying a whole new program and using kill pen rescue horses for the business. A true second chance for the animals! But of course always a risk if the rehaqbilitation and training will be worth it. Well happy to say it has been! We currently have 13 rescue horses happily working with us and the customers love to hear their stories and know that they are truly saving a horse riding a rescue!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Much of what I said in the first question, I am proud that I was a worker in Sept 11 and that I have strted to acheive my goal of operating one of the most humane dude strings around. But mostly I am proud of the fact that we rescue horses from the worst of places the kill pens and give them a second chance at having a great life! There is nothing like watching the physical and mental transormation of these animals. Most come scared and you can see the defeat in their eyes, the first time you see them actually relax and play or best yet snuggle into you for a pet gives me goosebumps and when you finally see them being ridden by a customer and bonding with them it brings tears to my eyes. I want people to know that we LOVE our horses and we give them a life of purpose by having a job, horses are working animals and they actually LIKE to work as long as precautions re in place to protect them and of couse the riders it can be a wonderful bonding experience. All customer end every ride with a treat to give their horse! WE will change the perception of kill pen horses being beyond help and of the dude string business
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Arizona Horseback Adventures- Cave creek!!! Sedona Chapel of the Holy Cross
Harolds Cave creek
Buffalo Chip cave creek
Rare earth Gallery
El Encanto cave creek
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people to thank for my growth of my horsemanship skills! Boot Gilg and Yellowskake have taught me so much about horses and the arizona landscape, survival skills, plantlife, wildlife and the rich history of Cave Creek As far as staff and people that have worked with my horses, there are too many to name and each one of them has given me so much and helped me with my rescue effort My office manager Dorothy Johnson has been invaluable to me, my farrier Tommy Pinkerton, My equine dentist Landon Ames , my vet Dr Merrill all have given of themselves t help me and when I was struggling during covid they never let me down and helped me continue to care for my herd of horses..
Of course the emotional support of my family and now fiance has helped me when I thought I would break
Facebook: Arizona Horseback Adventures
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