Long Rider Journeys from Canada to Patagonia
The Long Riders’ Guild was contacted in 2011 by a young man with a dream. Five years and sixteen countries later, he found his answer at “the bottom of the world.”
When Filipe Masetti Leite was a child, his father, Luis, read Tschiffely’s Ride as a bedtime story to the impressionable little boy. Originally from Brazil, the family had resettled in Canada, where Filipe grew up and attended university. After obtaining a degree in journalism, Filipe faced a difficult choice. Should he get a job, marry his girlfriend and settle down to the type of predictable life which his friends had chosen? Or should he consider undertaking the equestrian journey which his father had longed to make but had been unable to attempt due to family obligations?
Filipe decided that his father’s lifelong dream, inspired by Aimé Tschiffely’s 1925 ride from Buenos Aires, Argentina to New York, USA, was more important than rushing to join the traditional work force.
Seeking guidance and information, Filipe contacted the Long Riders Guild in August, 2011.
“My father sent me the link to a website that held the story of our beloved hero, Aimé Tschiffely, the most famous Long Rider of all time. He googled ‘Man rides from Buenos Aires to America’ one night and the Long Riders Guild link was the first one to come up. After reading through the story he loved so much, my father explored the website and found that there were other Long Riders just like Tschiffely all over the globe. I was as amazed as my father that there were still men and women making Long Rides out there. After a few weeks studying the site, I mustered the courage to email the Guild's founder, CuChullaine O'Reilly. I was very scared because this Long Rider and journalist is the most knowledgeable human being when it comes to the subject of equestrian travel. I was hesitant to tell CuChullaine about my plans, because I had never done this before. Yet I was about to attempt one of the hardest rides to date. What if CuChullaine laughed at me or thought I was stupid. Luckily, he didn't!” Filipe wrote.
In fact the Guild began immediately began organizing an international effort to assist Filipe. German Long Rider Günter Wamser, who rode from Patagonia to Alaska, Canadian Long Rider Bonnie Folkins, who rode in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, Brazilian Long Rider Pedroca de Aguiar, who had journeyed extensively in South America and American Long Rider Bernice Ende, who had made many equestrian journeys in the American west, all agreed to act as Filipe’s mentors and provide him with valuable information.
In conjunction with the Long Riders’ Guild, Basha O’Reilly, the Executor of the Tschiffely Literary Estate, endorsed Filipe’s dream of emulating Aimé Tschiffely.
The young traveller began his journey on July 8, 2012. After going through twelve countries, 240 horse shoes, and spending two years in the saddle, Filipe reached his family’s home in Brazil in 2014.
But after resting for a year, the Long Rider set his sights further south. Like his inspiration, Aimé Tschiffely, Filipe decided to journey to Tierra del Fuego, often known as “the end of the world.” He set off in April, 2016. The subsequent journey was filled with unexpected delays and hardships.
Though Filipe began the journey with two Quarter Horse mares, the government of Uruguay refused to allow the Brazilian horses to enter. This required Filipe to borrow local horses to ride across that country. Chile refused to permit him to enter under any circumstances. So he headed south into Argentina, this time obtaining the long-term loan of two Criollo horses.
The journey was imperilled when Filipe was forced to ride across miles of pampas that had been burned by a wild fire. Scores of animals lay dead and local people were hard pressed to host the weary traveller. As he rode further south, Filipe encountered harsh winter weather (top right).
Finally, on July 8th, five years to the day since he began his ride in faraway Canada, Filipe rode into the city of Ushuaia, Argentina. He had carried the Long Riders’ Guild flag through sixteen countries and sixteen thousand kilometres lay behind him.
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