Have a thing for spots? The Knabstrupper horse is a rare beauty with plenty of them! Similar to the Appaloosa and possibly of the same ancestry, the Knabstrupper is a breed of interesting and intense history that has beaten the odds.
The Knabstrupper originated in Denmark in the nineteenth century and the breed started with a single mare, Flaebe, and the owner of the manor Knabstrugaard, Villars Lunn. Flaebe was a horse with incredible spots and coloring, thought to be of Spanish origin. Bought from a butcher, this is the mare that is also responsible for setting the breed’s standards. One night Lunn was run over by a carriage and badly needed a doctor. It took about 19 miles and 105 minutes for the man to get the care he needed. His carriage was pulled by Flaebe and another horse.
The trip took its toll on the other horse, sending it into retirement, but Flaebe was back to work in the fields the next day. Even bred to a solid chestnut stallion, all her foals had the spots and Flaebe was the birth mother of the Knabstrupper breed.
Overcoming a Dark Fate
The offspring of Flaebe all had the mare’s stamina. The new breed was used in war for that reason, but it came with a price. The coats of the Knabstrupper made them an easy target for snipers and most of them did not return from war.
The want for the new breed was intense and the Knabstrupper horse was in danger of extinction shortly after it began. Inbreeding caused the spots to not show in foals and a fire at the manor killed half of the herd. The eye-catching breed was on the urge of extinction. Appaloosa stallions were imported to Denmark to add new bloodlines to the horses that survived.
However, a few of Flaebe’s offspring went on to carry the bloodline all over Denmark. The horses went on to be sport and circus horses, thus starting to spread out all over the world.
Knabstrupper Horses in the US
It wasn’t until 2002 when the first foals were born in the US. Germany members of the registry flew to America just to inspect the breed. Because of the distance, the American Knabstrupper Association was formed to promote the breed in the US. Just as any registry, the AKA attended expos and handed out all the Knabstrupper swag they could. Their efforts worked and people started importing and breeding the spotted horses.
In 2009, the original registry from Denmark started to send over individuals to inspect the mares and foals. In 2011, the AKA decided to cease operations and let Denmark’s original registry take over in America.
Knabstrupper horses are used in performance today. Many are used in dressage, jumping, driving, and endurance. They mostly have leopard-spotted coats and stand between 15hh and 16hh. They are docile but high-spirited and have the willingness to work, making them the perfect performance horse. If you have a thing for spots and rare horses, the Knabstrupper is the horse for you!
About the Author
Dani Buckley is a small-town resident in Montana. She is a veterinary technician manager and mom of eight four-legged kids – 5 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 horses. When she moved back home to Montana, her horses and her dogs moved with her (Carbon and Milo). The pack grew by three when she moved in with her boyfriend, Cody. Altogether there is a German Shepard (Lupay), a Border Collie (Missy), a Blue Heeler (Taz) and her two adorable mutts.
Her horses are her free time passion – Squaw and Tulsa. Dani has owned Squaw for 17 years and this mare has made 2 trips across the country with Dani! Squaw is a retired rodeo and cow horse. Her other mare, Tulsa, is an upcoming ranch horse. The girls have an unmatched personality and bond with Dani. She has been around horses her entire life and rodeoed throughout highschool and beyond. Now, she enjoys riding on the ranch, working cattle and trail riding.