Lexington, Kentucky – December 13, 2022 – Paralympian, eleven-year USEF Board member, and United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) founder Hope C. Hand of Newtown Square, Penn. was honored with the 2022 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Lifetime Achievement Award. Hand died June 12, 2022, of pancreatic cancer in her home surrounded by her family before being honored with this title. An accolade that envelopes a passionate career and personal journey for Hand. An honor she would accept with a large smile and laugh. Hand was the Executive Director of the U.S. Para-Equestrian Association, a two-time U.S. Paralympian, and international board member representing the para-equestrian sport. She was an equestrian athlete first, riding as a 10-year-old with Spina Bifida, leaving her wheelchair on the ground to enjoy the technique, challenge, and love of bonding and riding a horse. When her daughter Amy researched the Para-Equestrian discipline and the Paralympics for school, Hope (a competitive athlete in many sports) was excited that she could possibly reach the world stage on horseback. There was no goal too high for Hand, a lifelong theme always encouraging others throughout her equestrian career. As a horse family she was surrounded by the sport. Her daughter was a pony clubber. She lived along the property where the Radnor Fox Hunt would run. She attended all different shows in many different disciplines, and maintained friendships that lists like a Who’s Who of famous equestrians. She never hesitated to introduce herself and there was no bridge she wouldn’t cross.
Hand’s first Paralympics was Atlanta 1996. In 1997 she earned gold and bronze at the British Invitational. In 1997 she competed in the Bradshaw Challenge Cup at the Festival of Champions, with fellow team members Steffen Peters and Guenter Seidel. At the 1999 World Dressage Championships Denmark, Hand earned a bronze. She was on the U.S. 2000 Sydney Paralympic team and served as Team Captain. With her experience and desire to grow the Para-Equestrian discipline, in 2006 she was instrumental in helping include Para Dressage into the USEF and FEI. She served on many boards and committees through multiple decades including the FEI, USEF, Para Dressage, Technical committees, Path International, USDF, Reins for Life, NAJYRC, U.S. Pony Club, and more. Her own project began in 2009 when she created the non-profit, the United States Para-Equestrian Association. She saw the need to have USPEA help to market, grow the grassroots, encourage young equestrians, and help support and promote the international riders, drivers, and events. The USPEA was the main reason U.S. Para Dressage became a common word and talked about in other equestrian disciplines. She was proud of what she accomplished but never stopped. As the Para-Equestrian discipline became known she continued to focus on new athletes, training coaches, and creating opportunities at the national and local level. She worked passionately with a smile on her face. This decoration truly represents a lifelong commitment and love to the equestrian sport.
President of United States Eventing Association, Diane Pitts, noted, “I had the true pleasure of getting to know Hope Hand through various governance activities with the USEF. She was always very gracious but extremely focused and a fierce advocate for para-equestrian athletes. In the brief time I got to work with her, Hope taught me so much about the discipline of para-equestrian. She also demonstrated the power of dedication and the willingness to find solutions to issues by developing new ideas and new pathways to success. Losing Hope is a major blow to all equestrian sports.”
USPEA Secretary and international para-dressage athlete Ellie Brimmer added, “I first met Hope at my FEI classification. She mentored me as I found my footing on the international scene. We grew to become very good friends over the years, and she gave me the confidence to feel like I had the skills to take up a lot of my current leadership positions. Hope was tenacious in her quest to grow the para dressage sport in the United States. She understood growth comes from all levels and together we did things like attend development clinics in Virginia and FEI meetings in France. Without Hope, para sport in the United States wouldn’t be where it is today, and as she receives this award, it should drive the rest of us in the community to continue Hope’s vision of the United States para dressage program as an international powerhouse, with a strong foundation of grass roots athletes that have the tools to be able to reach the elite level.”
Hand was an important figure in so many aspects of the para-equestrian discipline, but she was also the one that made the world go around for her family. Her daughter Amy Hand Capozzoli expressed, “My mom is still getting the recognition she truly deserved, yet never asked for. What an incredible person: daughter, sister, athlete, friend, equestrian, wife, mom, mom-mom, world-renowned leader, and advocate in para-equestrian sports. She wore many hats and was never idle, always looking for the next great life adventure. I will proudly accept this great honor and award for my mom in Lexington, KY next month at the Pegasus Awards dinner on January 12th. I will always reach for the stars, mom, so that one day I may see you again. I love you more.”
Hope Hand earning the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award is a tribute to her lifelong love and commitment for the Para-Equestrian sport and for all riders that took one extra step further in their own lives and equestrian paths because of Hope Hand. Hand truly represented the definition of this accolade.
From USEF: “The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the horseman or woman whose lifetime experience and accomplishments in the equestrian world exemplify uncommon devotion to competition with horses and whose equestrian career and horsemanship have continually elevated the sport’s excellence.”
If you would like to attend the presentation of the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award during the Pegasus Awards Reception and Dinner, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, please visit https://www.usef.org/annual-meeting.
Attend the USEF Lifetime Achievement Presentation
2023 US Equestrian Annual Meeting and Awards
Where: Hyatt Regency Lexington, 401 W. High St. Lexington, KY 40507
When: Pegasus Awards Reception and Dinner – Thursday, Jan. 12th
Hope Hand Memorial Grant Fund
USPEA will be establishing a Hope Hand Memorial Grant fund in memory of our beloved Hope Hand to be used toward direct athlete grants for competition and education.
Donations may be made to USPEA and earmarked for the Hope Hand Memorial Fund. Donations made be sent to: USPEA c/o Ellie Brimmer, USEPA Secretary, 12359 Westhall Pl., Wellington, FL 33414.
Donations for the grants can be made through PayPal at: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=88PXC4YCSXTV4.
For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.