Letizia 'Zia' Reato was born in Switzerland and started her riding career at the age of 7. Her early training consisted of Vaulting, Dressage and Show Jumping. At the age of 11, craving more than just her weekly lessons, she started working at the local dairy farm. In return for Zia's help, the farmer gave her free access to his sleigh horses. Zia spent many hours trying to separate one of these giants from the herd in an attempt to interact and work with them and get them to do as she asked. She did this, equipped with only a bridle. This practice taught her to observe and characterize every individual horse.
When she turned 13, a new riding school opened its doors in her valley, offering Western style lessons (unique to the local area). For the next four years, she studied the art of Western riding with Julie Hossmann. The European (English) riding style, combined with the Western riding style, and her herd observations on the farm, opened up a new world. Zia began to understand the "language" of horses.
Upon graduation from the Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz (age 19), she began her world travels. First, she joined a work/study program with a group of traditional fox hunters and their cross-country horses in Southern Limerick, Ireland. Six months later, she left for the North Island of New Zealand to work for several polo sport facilities in the area. Here, she helped maintain the physical condition and health of the competition horses.
In 2008, she finally made her way to the “Wild West”. She introduced herself to the equine community by exercising privately owned horses for free. She also began volunteering for a local horse rescue in Oregon. The facility covered 70 acres and housed over 40 horses. Since she was the only volunteer with all-round riding experience, she soon became the facility's primary trainer. For the next year she traded food and lodging (sleeping in the barn) for her services. She worked with up to 13 horses a day. Many of these horses were sick, injured, traumatized, abused and fearful. It was during this period that she learned invaluable lessons about the psychology of horses. These lessons became a vital tool in her training and teaching methodology.
During this time, Zia learned that human/animal communication can suffer a significant “language” barrier. This can easily lead to frustration and abandonment of the relationship. Often, when people seek help and try to explain what is wrong with the animal, the issues are either inadequately explained or incorrectly interpreted, resulting in a persisting problem. The solution is to ask the animal directly. It is this communication philosophy that has set the foundation for the guiding principles behind Speak Horse.
In 2012 the Wild Child Ranch and Speak Horse were born. With great success she has taught humans and horses to communicate with each other and has provided unforgettable adventures on horse back, through the forests, hidden meadows, and on the beaches of the Oregon Coast. The 5-acre facility was maintained and operated solely by herself. In February of 2015 she successfully trained and adopted out two 9-year-old BLM mustangs through the TIP program. After this accomplishment and wrangling horses through the muddy, rainy Oregon Winters she decided it was time to seek out a new challenge.
In 2016 Zia was hired on as head wrangler at the high luxury ranch and resort at Paws Up in Montana. Her main focus there was to caretaker the herd of 35 horses and facilitate trail rides as well as lessons fro the clientele. Once the summer came to an end she decided to seek greener pastures and escape the long cold winters. So finally she decided to set up shop in New Mexico.
For the past two decades, Zia has devoted herself to becoming established in the horse community. It has been her life's work to manifest the essence of these beautiful creatures. Her travels, horse and real world experiences have shaped her into a one of a kind Instructor and Trainer. Her primary goal in life is to help these animals find good, compatible homes and to bridge the communication gap between horses and their owners. Her dedication and immense empathy toward these animals has enabled her to achieve a deep understanding of what makes a happy horse. She seeks to create lasting relationships between people and their horses and helps to set the foundation for mutual understanding and respect.