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Murray Journal

Circle A Stables to ride off into the sunset

Oct 30, 2018 02:04PM ● By Jana Klopsch

A tenant at Circle A Stables smells the flowers that adorn the stalls. (Photo courtesy Valery Atkinson)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

Almost hidden in plain sight, not many people would know that there is a horse venue, with outdoor and indoor arenas, tucked within a west Murray subdivision. Yet nearly 50 years ago, when it was surrounded by farmland, the Circle A Stables (787 W. Bullion St.) fit perfectly into its bucolic setting. Now, it too faces a fate similar to the farms it once neighbored and will be transformed into suburbia.

When Circle A first opened, a young 14-year-old girl moved her horse “Golden Boy” into the stable. This move made a lot of horse sense, as the girl would become a lifetime boarder and marry into the Atkinson family many years later. Valery Atkinson, the owner, is now selling the stable that her father-in-law founded.   

“The barn is 46 years old. Sadly, it’s aging and in need of many expensive repairs. I have been operating it alone for the past 15 years. There is a lot of physical work and stress involved in running a full-care, 52-stall stable, and I couldn’t have kept it going this long without the help of my family. But the time has come to say goodbye to my beloved stable,” said Valery.

Valery Atkinson stands outside the Circle A indoor arena, ready to ride. (Photo courtesy Valery Atkinson)

 Oris (known to locals as O.V. or “Mr. A”) and Lucille Atkinson built the stables and opened it for business in January 1972. He offered full-care horse boarding—providing a stall for each horse and a place for the owners to ride. Full-care also meant each horse was fed twice a day, their stalls were kept clean, and fresh shavings put down for them as bedding. O.V. offered all this, and he helped shoe countless horses, all for reasonable prices.  

“Because he kept his prices so fair, many people over the years were able to enjoy horse ownership in the middle of the city who otherwise couldn’t. I was one of those individuals that benefited from his generosity,” noted Valery.

The property originally consisted of a large cinderblock barn with room for 34 horses, a separate tack room, restrooms, and indoor round pen. It also has an indoor arena along with a large outdoor arena and hot walker. A few years after O.V. opened the barn, he expanded by adding 18 more stalls.  

O.V. rode with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Posse Riding Club and later was a founder of the Saddle Pals Riding Club, which practiced weekly during the summer in the arena for many years. There was also a 4-H Club named after the stables called Circle A Riders. They also met at the stables for their meetings and used the arena to practice for their shows for more than 15 years.

O.V. operated the barn until the last few years of his life when his health didn’t allow him to any longer. At that point, his son, David (Valery’s late husband), took over the day-to-day responsibilities of feeding, cleaning, and picking up shavings for bedding, and delivering shavings to other horse owners around the valley. He also broke and trained horses. 

Karen Edwards, who remembers the stables well, recalled, “The horses knew when he was coming and set up a whinny loud and clear. Mr. A was doing exactly what he had dreamed of. He was always whistling. He said he did so because then the horses knew where he was.”  

After the passing of O.V. and Lucille, and David’s untimely death, Valery took charge of operating the stables. “I have loved horses since I was a little girl and consider this stable one of my greatest blessings. It’s been such a privilege to keep O.V. Atkinson’s legacy alive for as long as I have,” explained Valery.

The property is now in the process of being rezoned for homes that will be known as Circle A Estates.