Calgary

Cowboy writes book about adventures, 'angels' on Calgary to Brazil horseback ride

A well-travelled cowboy from Brazil has released stories from his adventures in a new book.

'I like to cover a lot of land,' says Filipe Masetti Leite, as he prepares for new journey

Filipe Masetti Leite speaks to a reporter before riding out of the Stampede grounds in Calgary on July 8, 2012. In 2018, Leite rode a horse from Calgary to Brazil. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

A well-travelled cowboy from Brazil has released stories from his adventures in a new book. 

Filipe Masetti Leite, 31, immigrated to Ontario as a child, and as a teen, he became inspired to live the cowboy life after visiting the Calgary Stampede.

Now he's known for travelling across North America in the saddle, normally with a few other horses in tow. 

A few years ago, he rode from the Stampede to Brazil, then to the southern tip of Argentina. Now he's getting ready for an Alaska-Calgary journey.

"I like to cover a lot of land but it's a beautiful way to see the world, you know? You're travelling really slowly, atop a horse, no noise," Leite told the Calgary Eyeopener. "I just got addicted to it."

Leite wrote a book about his journey to Brazil, Long Ride Home: Guts, Guns and Grizzlies, 800 Day Through the Americas in a Saddle, that has just been released in English.

Filipe Masetti Leite has written a book, Long Ride Home, about his journey from Calgary to Brazil. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

The journalism grad also filmed much of his long-distance journeys for a production company called OutWild TV.

"It was a lifetime in a few years, so you can imagine I was sad, I was happy, I was scared," Leite said. "We met a grizzly bear in Montana that nearly killed us."

'Very scary moment'

His horses saved his life, he said, because they smelled the bear and became agitated. Leite spotted the bear and pulled out pepper spray given to him at an earlier stop by farmers.

"I'm staring at this pepper spray at this point the size of an iPhone 6," he said.

"And I'm like, 'What am I going to do with this bear. He's going to eat the Brazilian and then just burp out the spice. It's not going to work at all.' Very scary moment."

'Always an angel'

Part of the goal of his trip was to raise awareness to the drug war in Latin America, an effort which media covered at the time his journey finished in 2014. He said he witnessed multiple deaths, violence and families arming children. 

"At the same time that I saw those dark points, there was so much happiness, so much joy. The people that helped me along the way was the most special part of the journey by far," Leite said.

"Every single day, 30 kilometres a day and there was always an angel to help me along the way."

Before immigrating to Canada as a child, Leite said his family was involved with horses in Brazil. But in Ontario, they couldn't afford such hobbies, and he said his first Christmas present in this country was a mini hockey stick.

In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, Filipe Masetti Leite rides into Carlsbad, N.M. Inspired by his love for horses and an old story he has known since boyhood, the 27-year-old embarked on an epic journey through 10 countries on horseback. (Carlsbad Current-Argus/Natalie Gross/Associated Press)

As a teen, his father arranged a trip for him to western Canada with friends. They watched calf roping at the Stampede.

An opportunity, he said, that changed everything.

"The world just went into slow motion and I was like, this has been missing from my life. So as soon as I got back to Ontario I joined the high school rodeo association," Leite said. 

"If it wasn't for the Calgary Stampede, I don't know if I would've ever gotten back into horses."

He is planning to start his next journey, Alaska to Calgary, next spring.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.