By Rod Lee
Get Master Horseman Terry Thierrien talking about Ridge Valley Stables on Upton St. in Grafton and in no time at all the conversation turns to his longstanding relationship with the Saddle Shed.
I have been dealing with them from the day they opened,” Mr. Therrien said the morning of June 14th in his ranch-style home overlooking some of the fourteen acres that Ridge Valley Stables occupies on the westbound side of Rt. 140. The property abuts the Grafton Flea Market.
“We had eighteen acres but my dad sold some to my brother and some to the flea market for parking.”
Mr. Therrien is one of many local customers whose patronage has kept the Yaylian family’s Saddle Shed store operating for nearly half a century now. “It will be fifty years for us in 2019,” Margaret “Margo” Yaylian told Blackstone Valley Xpress, in commenting on Mr. Therrien’s loyalty and the store’s reliability in addressing the needs of “a lot of farriers, forgers, blacksmiths” and others.
As the Yaylian’s put it, “everything for the horse and rider.”
Mr. Therrien has been in business himself for nearly as long as the Saddle Shed; forty-six years. Buying and selling horses, boarding horses, shoeing horses, transporting horses, training people to ride, conducting pony rides and trail rides, even doing horse dentistry.
Mr. Therrien stops into the Saddle Shed “a couple of times a month” and purchases “hats, boots, saddles, nails, rasps, file tools, forges and horseshoes” from the store. “I was their best boot customer for years,” he said. “I still buy hats from the Saddle Shed.” With that, he drifted away to bring out for a visitor’s perusal a beautiful beige Stetson, which he described as “a blend of beaver and rabbit.” Sitting next to him were a pair of well-used leather boots he also acquired from the Saddle Shed. “They’re cool in summer and warm in winter,” he said. Just to the side of him rested a luxurious looking personal saddle which, he said, “I bought at the Saddle Shed, on consignment.” He is in the process of “training” the stirrups to point in the right direction for the feet to engage them.
A compactly built and friendly seventy-two year-old with tufts of gray hair sprouting from the sides of his head, Mr. Therrien, who was clad in a western shirt and jeans, is proud of his reputation as something of a cowboy. Indeed, a sign at the top of the driveway identifies the area in front of his home as “parking for cowboys, all others will be castrated. “I roped that steer,” he said, pointing to a skull and antlers mounted on a wall. “Tom Baker hired me for the job. They wanted to take it to the slaughterhouse. I did it on foot with a lariat. That rope lassoed the steer’s neck and stopped it cold.”
The Saddle Shed is a vital resource for customers such as Laura Didio of Grafton, Carol MacDonald of Westborough, Pat Mercer of Northbridge and Mr. Therrien. The store is only three miles from Ridge Valley Stables.
Mr. Therrien has known Thomas Yaylian and the Yaylian family for years. “Tom taught me how to shoe horses,” he said. “He used to work for his brother’s electrical-supply company. He built the Saddle Shed from the ground up and kept adding on.”
Horses are a big part of Mr. Therrien’s life. “I have forty horses here,” he said. “I own twenty and we board twenty.” Trail riders “can ride to the Upton State Forest, the Hopkinton State Forest and onto Grafton Land Trust land from here,” he said. “You can ride all day and not ride the same trail twice.
“I board and rent horses for trail rides.” One issue he has had to overcome is, “people would come in and buy my best horses so we’d have only the worst horses for customers!”
He purchased his own horse, a whitish eleven-year-old named “Theo,” from Crowley Auctions in Agawam.
Theo came immediately when Mr. Therrien called and opened a gate for him.
“He loves to be out of the corral,” Mr. Therrien said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.
Mr. Therrien with his horse “Theo” on the grounds of Ridge Valley Stables.