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Journey America

One traveler plans a two-year trek on American Quarter Horses.

By Larri Jo Starkey
The American Quarter Horse Journal
April 11, 2013

Filipe Matessi Leite is traveling from Canada to Brazil on two American Quarter Horses. His father, Luise Leite, has joined him for part of the journey.

Filipe Matessi Leite is traveling from Canada to Brazil on two American Quarter Horses. His father, Luise Leite, has joined him for part of the journey. (Photo courtesy of Filipe Leite) Scroll to the slide show below to see more photos from Filipe's journey.

On July 8, 2012, a 25-year-old journalist set out on horseback with two American Quarter Horses from the Calgary Stampede in Canada, traveling south to his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“My journey is estimated to take two years in which I will ride through 12 countries in North, Central and South America,” Filipe Masetti Leite wrote in an email to the Journal. “Riding out from the Calgary Stampede was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I had been dreaming of this since my father told me the story of Aime Tschiffely when I was 5 years old. To actually be setting out on a Long Ride of my own on two beautiful Quarter Horses was a dream come true. I will never forget that moment.”

He left Canada during a rodeo and plans to arrive at his Brazilian destination the same way.

“(I) will ride into the arena of Brazil's largest rodeo, Barretos, (in) August of 2014 after 16,000 kilometers in the saddle,” he says.

AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Stan Weaver of Big Sandy, Montana, donated one of the horses for the trip, Frenchmans Tru Angel, a 2003 palomino gelding by Frenchmans Angel and out of Ja Tru Blaze by Tru Rock Ace. He was bred by Charlie Hyde of Lakeside, California, and Filipe calls him “Frenchie.”

Copper Spring Ranch of Bozeman, Montana, donated the second Quarter Horse, Going Perry, a 2007 sorrel gelding by Top Perry and out of Going Merri by Merridoc. He was bred by Klein and Karen Gilhousen, owners of Copper Spring Ranch, and Filipe calls him “Bruiser.”

“I was born on top of a Quarter Horse,” Filipe says. “My father (Luis) used to host rodeos in Brazil in the early ‘80s and started bringing cutting horses to Brazil. I qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals two years in a row. I love the Quarter Horse’s agility, strength and intelligence. It is thanks to my horses that I have come this far.”

While traveling through New Mexico, Filipe was given a Mustang from the Taos Pueblo.

“My growing relationship with my ponies these past nine months is something money can’t buy,” Filipe says. “From sunrise to sunset, I am with my horses. Most nights, I sleep next to them. They are an extension of my body and my soul.”

Filipe’s father, has joined him for part of the travels, and this month, they're in Queretaro, Mexico. Filipe is documenting his journey with photos, videos and blog posts on his Facebook page, Journey America, and on his TV sponsor’s page, OutWildTV.com.

“Riding through the backcountry of Yellowstone, riding a bull in New Mexico, going to the National Finals Rodeo, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, meeting so many wonderful horsemen and women, crossing the Chihuahua desert – the largest desert in the Americas – alongside my father, making it to Mexico City with healthy horses,” Filipe lists his memories. “Every day I’m in the saddle, I am thankful for being alive. This trip has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it has also been the most extraordinary experience. I have learned so much and been able to understand more about horses and humanity.”

Although the breed's origin is in the United States, American Quarter Horses are everywhere, and spreading worldwide excitement for the breed is one of the Association's aims. In fact, the second Latin American Championships are slated for April 15-21 in Avaré, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Visit the AQHA En Espanol Facebook page for event updates, and stay tuned to www.aqha.com/showing for event coverage, brought to you by The American Quarter Horse Journal.