Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mildred "Mel" Price Doesn't Hide Her Love for All Things Equine -- She Displays Them at Home; She's Not Horsing Around

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mildred "Mel" Price Doesn't Hide Her Love for All Things Equine -- She Displays Them at Home; She's Not Horsing Around

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDY HILBOLDT ALLPORT

Mildred Price's friends call her Mel for short. Most other people know her as "The Horse Lady." She corrals more than 10,000 model horses in her Riverside home.

Her hobby, which she refers to alternately as a passion and an obsession, causes visitors to gasp after they wipe their feet on the carousel horse welcome mat and step through the front door.

"The first time I saw everything, I just said 'wow,' and I think I wandered around for like an hour, just looking," said Morgan Weaver, 18, a friend of Price's daughter Victoria. "That was almost two years ago, and I know I still haven't looked at all the stuff."

Besides the obvious methods of display -- arrangements on tables and shelves, or inside curio cabinets -- Price uses space creatively to showcase her horses. Dapple grays, pintos and Arabian mares trot across door frames and along window sills. An equine menagerie sparkles in the light of the chandelier from which it hangs.

And then there's the "horse room" upstairs. About the size of a typical walk-in closet, it has floor-to-ceiling shelves, which her husband, Dennis, built, that hold hundreds of her beloved figures.

Her collection includes more than models. Price says it's "anything horse" -- posters, paintings, T-shirts, plates, towels, jewelry, coloring books and records.

"I can't remember a time when I didn't love horses," Price said.

Price has ridden horses but never owned a live one. She attributes her passion to nostalgia from TV shows and movies she loved as a girl growing up during the 1950s in Springfield: Roy Rogers, Flicka, Fury, The Lone Ranger, even Lassie.

Price began collecting in 1986, and by 1991, when she started cataloging everything, she was up to 5,498 items. The shape, color and artistry of particular models catch her eye. She scours eBay, estate sales and flea markets for her finds. She has paid 25 cents for some items, $300 for others.

"There's just something about the way they look. They're majestic, just beautiful," she said. "I won't bring home just anything. I don't like ones that aren't realistic or have clunky legs."

Now that she has so many, the challenge is to find a horse she doesn't have, whether it's a tin toy, a rocker, a Christmas ornament or a stuffed animal. …

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