CARLSBAD – Inspired by his love for horses and an old story he’s known since boyhood, 26-year-old Filipe Masetti Leite embarked on an adventure that some would call “crazy” – a 7,000-mile journey going 3 mph on horseback through 12 North, Central and South American countries.
His goal? Not to set a world record or raise money for a cause, but simply to prove that even the wildest of dreams can come true.
“I was a kid a year ago who didn’t even have a horseshoe to put on my horses, but here I had this dream and I’m five months doing it,” Leite said.
Leite’s world tour began in Calgary, Alberta, on July 8, and has taken him across the western part of the United States. And so far, the Brazilian-Canadian journalist said New Mexico is near the top of his list for one of the most beautiful places he’s seen yet.
“When I read the sign ‘Land of Enchantment,’ I thought, ‘How can you really define the word enchantment?'” Leite said when he stopped in Carlsbad on Nov. 29. “But now I understand ‘enchantment’ is the only word you can use. It’s so beautiful here.”
Leite is joined on his unusual adventure by his girlfriend, Emma Braizier, who drives ahead of him to scope out locations, and his three horses: Bruiser, Texas and Frenchie, a palamino to whom Leite jokingly refers as a young Brad Pitt for his blonde and rugged good looks.
All three are quarter horses that were donated to him specifically for the trip. Leite said he alternates which horse he rides each day, giving the other two a chance to enjoy walking bareback.
The planning phase for Leite’s cross-continental trip really began with a childhood dream he had after his father told him the story of Aime Tschiffelly, an English teacher who rode Criollo horses from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Washington, D.C., in 1925.
Leite said his father loved that story and told it to him “a trillion times” as he was growing up on a coffee farm in Brazil.
After Leite’s graduation from journalism school last year, he said the story just kept playing over and over again in his mind, so he set out to research if such a feat was still possible.
“I wanted to travel, so I thought, ‘why not horseback?'”
Leite’s trip will take him all the way home to Brazil.
He plans to make a documentary film and write a book about his travels, highlighting the lessons he learns about humanity along the way.