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HOOF DREAMIN'
 
(2023 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: BILL KING



Filipe Masetti Leite Is The Long Rider.

Crossing into Central America on a wayward path to the unknown can be the ultimate scourge for any “Long Rider,” a moniker given to a horseback rider galloping more than 1,600 kilometres.

There are long wide-open stretches where water seems elusive, menace only a few steps outside the peri-meter. Nature’s a hard stance against outsiders, yet a welcoming calm at night’s end. A fire, horses to be bedded down, few thoughts beyond the moment at hand, and the lonely ride ahead.

For Brazilian-born cowboy Filipe Masetti Leite, the stark reality of a remote terrain far from civilization became an eight-year personal odyssey when the award-winning journalist embarked on several equestrian treks, including one from his adoptive home of Canada to his family’s home in Brazil, becoming the youngest person in the world to cross the Americas on horseback. 

The gruelling 25,000-kilometre adventure—a quest done in three treks across 12 nations—is the subject of the documentary The Long Rider, which had a theatrical release last summer and now streams on Super Channel and Amazon Prime Canada.  

The fantasy trip with two quarter-horses named Frenchie and Bruiser, and a third pickup—Dude, a mustang—was inspired by the book Tschiffely’s Ride, which chronicles Swiss author Aimé Félix Tschiffely’s 1925 Long Ride from Argentina to New York, and was a favourite bedtime story Leite’s father used to read him.

DS: What did you learn about the relationship between you and a horse?

FML:  It’s made me a better person. The horse teaches us so many lessons about slowing down, having patience, and realizing what’s real, and what’s truly important.

DS: Crossing Mexico, the locals were there to cheer you on, but crossing Latin America was another story.

FML:  It was stressful. When I set out to do this, I wanted to show the truth. These borders are nonsensical; it’s paperwork, bureaucracy and corruption. The further south, the harder it was crossing. It’s a reality that people experience daily in those countries.

DS: You’ve seen much of the world. You must have tremendous love, even renewed respect for Canada.

FML:  The freedoms we enjoy here, the quality of life, the security, the infrastructure. I love this country very much, and I think once you leave, it hits home how special it is, how beautiful it is, and how blessed we are.

DS: You suffered from PTSD.

FML:  I thought I knew what the end would look like. I wasn’t ready for the vacuum that would take place in my life once I reached that purpose and dream. I had thought about and yearned for this my entire life and worked so hard to achieve it. I think that was the hardest part, aside from breathing the loneliness I experienced. It was the fact of reaching that goal. And the realization that it was about the journey, and not just always thinking about getting there.

 
 
 
 
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