Richard Castrina is a retired racehorse trainer and driver (he raced trotters) who, at one time, considered himself a hobbyist "Wood Butcher" and blacksmith. But about five years ago, his love of things equine and his hobbies came together when he decided to investigate restoring old sleighs. As he researched sleighs in preparation for his restorations, he encountered a one-third scale Albany sleigh and was so taken with it he decided to build one for himself.
It was habit-forming. So far he's made at least 54 miniatures, and he's still going strong. About the only limit to his efforts is time. He can produce no more than about 12 per year because of the research demanded for creating designs and the patience required for his precision workmanship. Even so, when he's not working on miniatures, he also restores full-size sleighs.
Castrina has been commissioned by both museums and collectors to create his miniatures, and his work has been featured in the Early American Life Directory of Traditional American Crafts in previous years.