US Equestrian announced the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Junior Equestrian of the Year Award to be presented at the 2023 US Equestrian Annual Meeting. The late Hope Hand is the winner of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Skylar Wireman is the 2022 Junior Equestrian of the Year. Hand and Wireman will be recognized at the Pegasus Awards Dinner on Jan. 12.
Lifetime Achievement Award—Hope Hand
Hope Hand began riding at age 10. She didn’t discover para-dressage until she was an adult, when her daughter Amy learned about the sport as part of a school project on the Paralympics. That opened the door to Hope Hand’s life work and lasting legacy in equestrian sport, as both an elite athlete and as a sport leader.
Hand was first alternate to the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Team and competed at the British Invitational in 1997, earning gold, silver and bronze. In 1998, she was one of four para-dressage riders competing on four separate teams with their able-bodied peers at the USEF Festival of Champions. Hand’s freestyle score broke the tie, earning her team the Bradshaw Challenge Cup. The following year, as a member of the U.S. Team competing at the 1999 World Dressage Championships, she won a bronze medal. Hand also competed at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, finishing fifth overall.
In addition to serving on the USEF board and on numerous committees, Hand also was president of the United States Para-Equestrian Association. Without her, para-equestrian sport would still be struggling for recognition, funding, and a place on the world stage. She was instrumental in transitioning para-dressage into a Fédération Equestre Internationale and USEF sport, and she never missed an opportunity to educate, recruit or mentor participants, from the grassroots to the elite.
Hand’s tireless support for para-dressage and its athletes contributed to the growth of the sport and the success of the U.S. program, including the U.S. para-dressage team’s outstanding results at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games.
Hope Hand, a true, lifelong friend of horses and equestrians, died on June 12, 2022, leaving a great legacy in para-equestrian sport.
Junior Equestrian Of The Year: Skylar Wireman
Skylar Wireman of Bonsall, California, is a member of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association who competes in equitation, hunter and junior jumper divisions. In 2022, she earned the USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic—West and the World Equestrian Center Premier Equitation Cup. She took home four titles at the Capital Challenge Horse Show (Maryland): grand junior hunter champion, high point junior hunter, 16-17, champion, small junior hunter, 16-17, champion and best junior 3’6” rider award. Wireman also was the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final reserve champion at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
In addition to her impressive results, Wireman demonstrates a strong work ethic, dedication and willingness to help others. She takes excellent care of her horses and focuses on the enjoyment she gets out of competing rather than blue ribbons. Wireman is known for helping others in a variety of ways, such as loaning her horses to other competitors, cheering up someone having a bad day, and even helping change horse trailer tires when needed.
“Oftentimes, at the end of a long day I enjoy hopping on my horses bareback and taking them for a walk to stretch their legs,” wrote Wireman in her application essay. “That special bond carries forward into competition, where horse and rider must both put their trust in each other to be successful. Knowing that above all, the welfare of the horses and those around them always comes first…These moments are what keep me coming back for more.”
In addition to the above awards and the Equestrians of Honor, the Pegasus Awards are made up of numerous honors for a renowned group of equestrians.
Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Award – Eleanor Hamilton and Maryanna Haymon
Kip Rosenthal Memorial High Score Equitation Award – Augusta Iwasaki
Pegasus Medal of Honor – Jan Decker, Sally McClure Jackson, John R. “Doc” Steele
Richard E. McDevitt Award of Merit – William “Bill” Ellis, John King, Don “Pusito” Antonio Lopez, Richard Picken, Nancy Turrill
Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy – To be announced at the Pegasus Awards Dinner
USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award – Meris Bickford
USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award –Ryder Richardson
Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award – Charlotte Skinner-Robson