Wellington, Fla. – April 15, 2020 – With multiple world championship appearances under her belt, Annie Peavy has already made a name for herself in the dressage industry. The 24-year-old made her United States team debut in 2014 at her first FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, France, before she went on to represent the stars and stripes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2018 Tryon FEI World Equestrian Games. Though the Grade IV para equestrian has enjoyed the experiences dressage has brought her, she is hanging up her boots for a newly discovered passion — politics.
Despite her successful riding career representing Team USA, Peavy was held to the same standards set by her parents as her older siblings who were expected to get jobs after graduating. With a virtual graduation ceremony looming ahead in May, Peavy will graduate Lynn University with a degree in political science and plans to move to Phoenix, Arizona, to work on a Senate campaign race. Though the gig in Phoenix is only short term through the election cycle, Peavy hopes the connections she makes will help her take a step in the right direction for a career in politics.
“I want to dive headfirst into this segment of my life and give it my all, just as I have done with my riding,” Peavy explained. “The break from riding will help me give 100% and make new connections. Once I am financially stable, I will definitely get back into riding, but now is the time I want to explore new things. I’ve always been riding – It’s all I’ve known.”
“I need to work up from the bottom to gain experience. My dad is a political consultant and advertising professional in DC, and growing up, my family was very involved in politics. It’s a familiar environment I’m comfortable in. When I initially went to Lynn [University], I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, but with all my experience competing at the highest level and my determination, I felt politics was a good fit for me.”
Prior to birth, Peavy suffered a stroke leaving her paralyzed on the left side of her body. When she was only four-years-old, she began riding horses as a method of physical therapy and by 10-years-old she developed a love for dressage.
After her very first Adequan Global Dressage Festival season in 2014 with Ozzy Cooper and Lancelot Warrior, she began rising to the spotlight. Standout performances with Lancelot Warrior in 2016 helped secure her place on the U.S. Paralympic Team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Peavy and her latest mount Royal Dark Chocolate debuted their partnership in Wellington in 2017, consistently scoring well over 70% in the Grade IV tests. Their hard work paid off in 2018 when they were selected to compete at the Tryon WEG, helping the team finish in 5th place while she earned an individual 6th place.
As Peavy looks fondly back on her riding career, she believes the lessons she’s learned will play a crucial role in her success in the corporate world.
“I’ve been riding for 19 years and, in a good way, it has consumed my whole life,” Peavy explained. “I’ve had amazing experiences and my parents were always there to support me. We discussed if I wanted to try to qualify for Tokyo and they would try to help me get there, but after the last WEG I did not think I was going to pursue Tokyo. My main goal in my final year of riding was getting to Prix St. Georges with Cocoa.
“Horses teach everyone patience. You will always have setbacks and hard days,” she continued. “It taught me if you keep working on things, even if something doesn’t go right it’s not the end of the world. Riding also teaches responsibility, especially managing your horse. When I was competing, I felt a huge responsibility for my teammates and representing the U.S.”
Peavy headed down centerline in six countries, but for her, the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was the icing on the cake.
“Rio was my favorite championship because I was competing Lance [Lancelot Warrior],” she said. “He loves competing and is very confident in the show arena, so there is no stress from him. We bought him not thinking he would become my top horse, but he really proved us wrong. Plus competing at the games with my teammates, especially Becca Hart, who I’m really close with, and having my family there, made it overall a very special experience to me.”
Peavy grew up as the only horse-crazy member of her family and balanced the two worlds – the life of a typical American college student with the life of a high performance athlete.
“Competing and traveling around the world with your horse is very stressful,” Peavy said. “I put stress on myself and I was solely focused on those competitions and how I could get there. At Lynn, I went to ride in Wellington every morning throughout college but I did want a fun college experience rather than study online. The experiences I’ve had in my riding career were amazing but I’m now realizing there are other chapters to life. I will always cherish riding, and hopefully I’ll ride again. I really want to see what else is out there — it’s a whole other world!
“I’m definitely nervous,” she continued. “I knew if I had Cocoa with me at my new job I would not be able to do either fully. Since I recently stopped riding, it still feels strange that I am not going to the barn at 7am. Once I get over that initial weirdness, but I think it will be good for me to dive 100% in and not have to compromise different experiences because I have to get a ride in. I’ve never had a full-time job so I’m very excited.
“I’ll definitely miss riding, but I have to think of the next step,” she continued. “I can look back at all the memories that I will hold onto forever but I can also have amazing memories in the future without horses. My sadness can’t keep me from experiencing other things and living a full life. I can always get back into horses when I have the means to.”
She did keep her boots, helmets and saddles so you may be seeing Peavy back in the saddle in a few years. However, the transition out of the horse world was made easier as Cocoa has found a new young rider to smother her with love. Connected through Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids, Cocoa will now be ridden by Devon Pomeroy.
“Cocoa is only 12 and very talented, so he has so much left to offer someone,” Peavy said. “It’s a good match with Devon, and Cocoa can teach her so much. Devon is very excited and has come to the barn a ton to see her and learn about her. I feel very secure that Cocoa will be loved.
“I want to thank my parents for supporting me and all my trainers and grooms over the years, especially Heather Blitz and Alex Philpin (Cocoa’s groom). They have always been by my side and very supportive of me.”