When Lynn Burns was only 10 years old, she got a little toy horse.
"My first horse came from Boblo Island in Detroit," she said, describing it as "the horse that started it all."
And wow, did it. Her introduction to the grand animal stirred a love in the little girl's heart that after all these years hasn't dimmed one bit. She played with that ceramic horse so much that some of the legs broke off and have had to be glued back on. Now, it is only one of numerous others that Ms. Burns has amassed to make up a vast collection of horse figurines and various other representations of horses that includes one carousel-sized replica.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view collection
Sitting on the sofa of her two-bedroom apartment in West Toledo, she talked about her love of the animal.
"Like a lot of little girls, I fell in love with the beauty and the power and the grace of horses," Ms. Burns said.
Ms. Burns, 61, a retired Walbridge Elementary School teacher, didn't buy each of the horses she owns.
"A vast majority of my horses, from 80 percent to 85 percent of the collection, comes from other people," she said. "People know it's a love of my life and as gifts and when people travel, they would get me a horse. It's the same with my other collections, too."
She also has a number of items representing Star Trek the TV program and Peanuts the comic strip.
Among her prized possessions is a metal sculpture of a carousel that was a surprise gift from her mother. It hangs in a bedroom dedicated to "Gorgeous," the name she gave her white carousel horse that has a pale green saddle and gold-painted mane and tail.
Six-feet wide from the tail to mouth and six-feet tall from the top of the gold carousel pole to the base that holds the horse, this one did not come from a carousel. Ms. Burns obtained her special-order find from a carousel catalog through an antique shop in Blissfield.
It doesn't matter to Ms. Burns that "Gorgeous" is hollow. It's not for sitting on anyway. And besides, this Toledo girl never took riding lessons. In fact, she laughs when she talks about her experiences with horses, which she has decided clearly means that they are not for her to ride.
"Even a mule that they used to have at Cedar Point bucked me! A horse at Pearson Park charged off with me hanging on and one of the people in charge came to my rescue," she said.
"Another time I rode a horse and when I got off, the horse stepped on my foot. For some reason I love them but they don't love me," she said, laughing at herself.
Those experiences did not change how she felt about horses. For proof, there's a chrome-painted mustang on her living room wall. It doesn't matter to her that the item that she said came from the Ford Motor Co. is not solid chrome; the shiny six-foot wide plaque certainly appears to be solid metal.
And wouldn't anyone who collects horses and has a mustang hanging in her house also have one to drive?
That should have been easy to figure out: Ms. Burns has a 2004 Ford Mustang, and it's not just yellow, it's Ford's "Screaming Yellow."
Ms. Burns had it customized with the Ford mustang logo on the side, mustangs on the mud flaps, and a Denver Broncos logo on the front hood.
No kidding about her love for horses.
Contact Rose Russell at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178