Best of EN: The Priceless Horses Make For the Greatest Memories

“Sometimes, it’s not about the levels we climb or the scores we earn. Sometimes, it’s about the irreplaceable relationship with a horse that gets us out of bed on even our worst days.”

Ava Elena Alvarez and Hugo Boss. Photo courtesy of LRA Photography.

Every now and then you encounter a horse that truly embodies the word “priceless.” That’s the way I think of a good friend of mine’s off-track Thoroughbred, Hugo Boss – and I’m quite sure the local eventing community would agree with me.

Overland Park, Ks.-based Mallory Stiver purchased Hugo Boss, whose Jockey Club name was Andrus (Artax – Goodie Good Girl), from the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program after a lackluster racing career. An amateur rider herself who had never competed above Training level, Mallory set about producing the 2010 bay gelding to be an event horse.

Fast forward to today, nearly nine years later, and the pair has successfully competed through the Intermediate level, achieving many firsts and personal bests along the way.

But sometimes, the results and competitions ticked off are only a small part of the story.

Mallory Stiver and Hugo Boss contesting the CCI2*-L at Texas Rose in 2018. Photo by Terri Hatcher Photography.

Over the last nearly decade, Mallory and “Huey” bonded, establishing their relationship with trips to and from Ocala, endless trail rides around Kansas, and a healthy dose of carting friends around like the good-natured soul Huey is. Through this, the tall gelding has earned a reputation of being a skillful teacher, a patient ride for new riders or new horse fans — through and through, a priceless horse.

So it comes as no surprise to see Huey this past weekend stepping into yet another unique role: a borrowed salve to soothe a recent pain.

Through her and her family’s business, Paradox Farm Sport Horses, Mallory had sold a horse to an acquaintance, Ava Elena Alvarez. After an all-too-short time together, the mare sadly suffered a freak pasture accident and had to be put down. Ava, who is turning 15 this month, was devastated at the loss of her partner; they had been planning to move up to Training level together this season.

Mallory had an idea. She had a young horse she wanted to focus on producing this season, and her goals with Huey mostly involved enjoying him. Why not let Ava take him for a spin?

Last weekend, Ava and Huey made their competition debut together, finishing seventh in their Training division on their dressage score at Texas Rose in Tyler, Tx. For Mallory, seeing her horse of a lifetime share the joy he gives her was worth more than any personal achievement.

The highlight of my weekend right here!! Huey helped Ava complete her first training level this weekend and they did it…

Posted by Mallory Stiver on Sunday, March 28, 2021

“With all the hard work I did with my past horse, Winnie, and then her having to be put down due to her accident, I was really in a spot where I wasn’t sure I how long I would be able to ride,” Ava Elena said. “Mallory kindly let me put in the work on Huey to start showing him this year. He has really given me the confidence I need to move up through the levels and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.”

“I was in tears most of the weekend watching Huey take such good care of Ava like he’s always taken care of me,” Mallory said. “He did so much for me, keeping me in the saddle when I went through the loss of two horses, and I hoped he would do that for her, too.”

Mallory Stiver with Ava Elena and “Huey.” Photo courtesy of Mallory Stiver.

Sometimes, it’s not about the levels we climb or the scores we earn. Sometimes, it’s about the irreplaceable relationship with a horse that gets us out of bed on even our worst days. Despite the terrible sadness Ava experienced with the loss of her own partner, a little borrowed joy was all she needed to get a little piece of her groove back – and it’s the most priceless horses that can give this so easily.