Young-at-heart yard art entertains commuters
Special to the LVN
Myrt Reichard has been sharing her customized and often holiday-themed toy horses with Allen Road passersby in Fallon for nearly 25 years.
The colorful, plastic, decorated horses are typically Wonder Horses, she said — the vintage children’s toys which are a rideable size and attached to springs attached to bars. She hunts down the Wonder Horses at yard sales and craft stores.
Reichard also locates the carousel poles, or some type of post that will work, and has a pole hole cut atop the toy horse. The poles are typically brass and she often paints them. Her husband used to help her make the necessary cuts with their drill press but he passed away 12 years ago.
“I get help or go to Ace,” she said matter-of-factly.
This kind, spunky and capable woman allowed me into her home for some questions and a tour of her creative process on a whim, me interrupting her making what looked like an egg salad sandwich that looked delicious.
My husband is being stationed in San Diego so our family is moving. I couldn’t leave Fallon without meeting the carousel horse display artist; I’d chatted with too many people about it.
Reichard uses acrylic paint to repaint the horses, often adding festive additions such as holiday decorations or craft store jewels.
“I have a gems box with about 150 of them in it,” she added.
Reichard said she started creating the custom displays in the late 1980s when she was living in Southern California. Her brother and sister-in-law were visiting and saw one she had done.
She asked them, “Do you like it?”
Her light blue eyes dance for me.
“In three months, I was making more,” she said, grinning.
When her husband saw the Fallon house she now lives in, he knew it was their new home. It quickly became the locale of her craft, changing the carousel horse displays out monthly.
May, June and July focus on Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July. Thanksgiving-time features real turkey feathers from her son’s hunting trips, Reichard adding more feathers from him each year to make the tail plumage fuller.
“I have a white horse from after Christmas to Valentine’s Day because January is kind of ho-hum,” she said.
A few horses are around the house, more in the garage and several more in her backyard shed that need to be painted, she said. One resting to the side in her living room is a beautiful bronze color that she commented isn’t quite finished.
“I’ve sold some, I’ve given some away,” she explained. “Some I’ve passed on for no more $20, others have sold for $200.”
The artist said her horses have found homes in places like Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Reno — one was donated to the Churchill County Museum for an auction.
Reichard has three children and was married for more than 50 years. She was a schoolteacher and housewife before joining the U.S. Forest Service; her husband was an engineer.
“I think I have five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren,” she said. “I’m old!”
She encouraged me to come back soon and bring my 4-year-old daughter. Reichard was working on elaborating the green-and-red Christmas horse display.
“It’ll be penguins ice skating,” she said. “I have a blue tarp I need to put out.”
We noted how chilly it was outside.
I asked if I could get her age; she smirked and proclaimed again, “Old!”
While looking through my pictures later, I finally noticed she was wearing an apron with a sequin carousel horse on it.
I’ll miss her latest Wonder Horse when I drive around, a reminder to have a little fun and embrace your inner creativity.
A few days later, sure enough, the penguins were out skating — and still are.