The Roundup -

Larson's Impressive Carnival Horse Menagerie


October 3, 2018 | View PDF

Chuck Larson and a selection of his "Little Ponies". (Photo by Jaymi Loobey)

Some people collect coke bottles. Some collect dolls. Some collect tractors or even matchbooks but not Chuck Larson. Chuck collects horses and not just any horses, he collects carnival horses. All around his house stand metal horses of various sizes from 2 to 10 inches. "They call them carnival horses because you used to be able to win them in carnival games," Chuck told me. "You could win a little one, then play some more and trade it in for a larger one." He said it is possible that some of the horses in his collection came from other sources. He has a few he is sure came off ashtrays or clocks and one of William F. Cody and his horse that he was told were sold in his wild west shows.

This is the cowboy and horse that started it all for Chuck. (Photo by Jaymi Loobey)

For Chuck, it all started in 1942. His mother, who was away and taking classes to be a military nurse during WWII, bought a metal cowboy for Chuck's grandfather and sent it to him. When Chuck saw it he figured it needed a metal horse so he bought one for $5. Little did Chuck know that his collection had begun. The war was over before Chuck's mother could complete her classes and she returned home. Things returned to normal and the years passed. When Chuck's mother passed away in 2004, he inherited the cowboy and horse. He was not sure how to feel. His mother had inherited them when her father died and now they were Chuck's. Then, he began to find some metal horses at yard sales and flea markets, a few at auction, and sometimes people just gave them to him. His sister is always looking for them to help add to his collection. Now, Chuck has about 52 bronze, silver, and gold colored metal horse figurines. "I call them my little ponies," Chuck said laughingly. They are just a hobby for him, something to hunt for. However, he feels that very first horse is his favorite.

Chuck Larson farmed north of Sidney, Montana, for a long time but has retired and passed down the operation to his sons. He does still pitch in though, when they are needing help.


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