Lusitanos have taken Peter van Borst around the world and given him a chance to live out-of-this-world experiences usually reserved for books or brought to life in movies.
Van Borst Rides With Seigfried and Roy
This is Peter with Favorito, one of his all-time favorite horses that entertained hundreds during nightly Seigfried and Roy Show performances at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Sin City, where this photo was taken. Theirs was one of the most famous shows in Las Vegas history, and Peter helped tune and train the act’s animals –mainly horses, camels and literally anything with hooves, but also elephants, which look like they have hooves, but really walk on their toenails.
Between shows, Peter routinely traveled to Japan as a Lusitano trainer for the storied Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus. He developed his friendship with the illusionist duo of Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn through Feld Entertainment, producer of Ringling’s “Greatest Show on Earth” since 1967.
Today, Feld Entertainment specializes in big, showy spectacles. In addition to the circus, it has produced live Disney extravaganzas, as well as Broadway events and Siegfried and Roy Show.
They developed such a huge fan base that real estate tycoon Steve Wynn decided to build an entire casino resort around them and their animals. Putting on the Siegfried and Roy Show took 250 cast and crewmembers and 75 tons of scenery. Night after night, for more than 5,000 performances, the pair dazzled sell-out crowds.
Through it all, Fischbacher and Horn lived as an unconventional family in their palatial home called the Jungle Palace, which they shared with 63 tigers, 16 lions and a slew of other exotic animals.
Peter worked on the show until October 2003, when a Bengal tiger dragged Roy Horn off stage. Six years later, all were reunited in 2009, when Siegfried and Roy performed their final act at the Bellagio hotel-casino during a lavish benefit for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The center treats brain disorders like those that Horn now suffers because of the attack.
Gengis Kahn, a Famous Lusitano Ambassador
Here are Peter and Gengis Khan during an international breed show in Fort Worth Texas. Gengis was one of the gentlest horses Peter says he’s ever ridden. No one knows that better than Deb Lewin, a paraplegic dressage rider, who partnered with Gengis for several years.
In the late 1990s, Lewin, a former professional hockey player originally from Zimbabwe, was badly injured when another vehicle broadsided hers. She was paralyzed on the left side and still battles hearing and vision problems from the traumatic event. But she calls that day her “opportunity,” because she has since become a respected equestrian who competes in dressage, carriage driving and English, western and trail riding. Once a member of Team USA, a para-equestrian dressage team, Deb competed internationally on borrowed horses and twice has made the Paralympic Trials. She remains one of the country’s top riders and a talented motivational speaker.
Gengis was a special mount for Lewin, a first for her on several fronts. When instructor Cristina Boggio introduced her to the horse that Peter trained, Gengis was the youngest horse she had ever ridden. He also was Lewin’s first stallion and her first Lusitano.
“People talk about animals talking to them,” Lewin said. “I had an Old English sheepdog that had the same look as Gengis Khan. They both understood what I was thinking. And Gengis’ eyes said, “I’ll take care of you”.
“I’ve never been more comfortable on a horse, and I felt so wonderful and whole when I rode him”.
Peter never doubted Gengis, either. He is a son of Novilheiro, a famous stallion who competed at the highest level in show jumping under British rider John Whitaker. Good breeding and good instincts are part of the package.