Ryerson journalism grad Filipe Masetti traveled over 16,000 km on horseback

Photo courtesy Filipe Masetti

Saddle and lens

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By Jake Kivanc

Three horses, two continents, one man.

Filipe Masetti, a Ryerson journalism grad, travelled from Calgary all the way down to his home country, Brazil — a 16,000 km journey. The World Cup offered him the opportunity and helped sponsor his two-year expedition. Masetti documented his experience across 12 countries on horseback.

“My father used to tell me the tale of Aimé Tschiffely’s long ride when I was very young living in Brazil,” Masetti said. “I used to lay in my bed dreaming of what it would be like to ride your horses through all of those countries.”

Like the 1933 classic of Tschiffely’s Ride which details the adventure of Aimé Tschiffely, an early 20th-century academic and traveler who rode horseback across the Americas, Masetti knew that one day he too would conquer the world atop a saddle.

After immigrating to Canada at the age of 9, Masetti’s cross-continent fantasy continued to churn through his mind for many years but it took time to make it a reality.

“I wasn’t ready to go on a long ride out of high school,” he said. “Back then, it was still just a dream.”

As a graduate of Ryerson’s School of Journalism in 2010, Masetti said the half-decade he spent involved with the university was crucial for his metamorphosis into a man. He felt ready to finally blaze a trail from Calgary to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“[I learned] how to be a real journalist in university,” said Masetti. He said that the program taught him how to tell stories and how to eventually capture his own journey.

“I didn’t have anyone telling me what to shoot or who to interview the 803 days I spent riding home, it was all on me,” he said.

“After I graduated, I hit the ground at a gallop.”

In university, Masetti said he had no camera so he would borrow one from the journalism department to learn how to shoot. He would stay up until the sun rose and shine through into the video labs, where he would edit footage “like a mad man.”

When it came to his decision to make it happen, Masetti realized his didn’t have all the connections, equipment and funding to go through with it. He then figured that all the things that he didn’t have on hand, he would obtain by selling his brand of adventure.But closing the deal wasn’t easy.“Some people laughed at my face and everyone called me crazy,” he said. “I kept creating videos and pitches and eventually the universe opened its doors for me. The horses, the saddles, the camera equipment, my monthly expenditures – everything was sponsored.”

After producing two documentaries during his studies and being able to net the funding of a Nashville production company, Masetti was ready to saddle up.

And on July 8, 2012, he did just that.

Masetti spent the next two years of his life travelling across the Americas on horseback, relying on nearly nothing but his survival skills and the intuition of his hooved companions. He arrived in Brazil in August of 2014.

Along the journey there was some hardship. His three horses Bruiser, Frenchie and Dude were seriously injured during the trip. At some parts of his trip, he dealt with starvation. Other times, he had to turn a blind eye to the horrors of the Central American drug trade, an experience he said that left scars on his soul.

But despite the few troubles that he encountered, the trip was far from grim. He said a big highlight of his trip was making it up to Yellowstone National Park’s Amethyst Mountain, where he was overtaken with peace.

“The entire journey was bliss, I was living out my childhood dream,” Masetti said. “There were many moments in this trip that I wish could last forever.”

Although Masetti said he isn’t planning on doing another long ride anytime soon, he is producing a documentary and a book about his travels. He said that he hopes it will inspire people to pursue their dreams on their own terms.

“The CBC, The Star and Rogers are not the only avenues to go down,” he said. “The golden handcuffs may seem flashy at a first glance, but they come at a price — I much prefer the wide open places.”

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