Annie Peavy was born August 12, 1996 in Hartford, Connecticut. Prior to her birth she suffered a stroke. Annie was born partially paralyzed on her left side. At the age of 4 she began to ride as a form of physical therapy and as her mobility improved, her passion for riding grew. Soon after taking lessons at the local barn Annie asked her parents if she could have her own horse. At age 10 Annie found her first horse, Baby Blue. Further on Annie convinced her mom to let her take dressage vacations to Portugal, where she first learned about Para-Dressage. Once home again Annie read an article about Para-Dressage and at the age of 15, she started working toward her goal of representing the U.S. at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) and the Paralympics. In 2013 Annie and her mom attended a Heather Blitz clinic. Soon after the horses were moved to Heather’s then training center at Cutler Farm in Medfield, Massachusetts. Annie commuted a two-hour drive five times a week to train with Heather. Annie has since won multiple blue ribbons in international Grade 3 Para-Dressage competitions, including three classes and overall at the WEG selections in Gladstone. This spring after riding the FEI Junior test she completed her bronze medal.
When and how did you choose Lancelot Warrior, the 2002 17.0-hand Hanoverian gelding (Londonderry x Waroness – Warkant), for your competition partner?
I went to Denmark with Heather Blitz the week of Thanksgiving two and a half years ago. It was a whirlwind trip and I was thinking we might get lucky and find one horse. We got really lucky and found two. My parents had to give it a little bit of thought because it is a bit of a game change to go from one competition horse to two. Lance has changed so much the longer I have him; he knew a lot when I bought him but he has learned and teaches me every day. Every day we train I feel I get to know him better and better. Riding and competing Lance is a joy. He gives me his all every ride.
You and Lance have a very special bond. How has Lance held up his end of this great endeavor?
Lance is a great horse. He is always trying his hardest for me in competition. He loves to compete, I can take him all over the world and he always brings his A game. He is never spooky and always helps make me even more comfortable.
When did you meet your coach, Heather Blitz, and what determined the choice for you both to work together?
I started training with Heather three years ago. I had seen her teach clinics and watched her show and it was very impressive. I liked her teaching style of biomechanics. I had a small taste of biomechanics, and when I had the chance to see Heather teach a clinic in California, I thought it was something that would be great for me.
What is most important about your relationship with your coach?
It is very important to have a coach who you can communicate with easily, a coach who can explain something in a way you can understand and can make a difference. Training with Heather is a conversation. She asks me questions so she can understand what I am feeling then she finds a way to make me understand what I should be doing. Heather is very supportive of my goal for the Paralympics and is willing to do anything or travel anywhere to help me achieve this dream.
Your mom, Becky Reno, is a huge support for you. What is her greatest contribution to you as a competitor?
My mom does so many things for Lance and me. We would not be where we are today without her. She has been there since day one when I was on school horses wanting to go to the barn three times a day. Now she is there at every competition, whether it is a local show around us or a big international competition in Europe.
Managing the daily care of an equine athlete is vital to your success. How and why did you choose Alex Philpin to take on this huge responsibility?
It is a lot of work keeping a show horse healthy and always ready to compete. Alex really cares for the horses and knows what they need to stay in top shape. This will be Alex’s third Paralympics and it is a huge help to our team to have someone who has been there. It is really a team effort to get any horse/rider combination ready for the Paralympics. From trainer, groom, farrier, sponsors, physical trainers, vet and all the people who do day off grooming or night check—every single part is important and without a huge amount of support it would never happen.
What does the journey to Rio mean to you?
Representing America at the Paralympic Games is huge to me. It has taken lots of time and effort to get here and I’m so grateful it is paying off. To get to represent my country with three other incredibly strong women is a dream. I couldn’t be more excited to be going with Lance, he is a once-in-a-lifetime horse.