The Knabstrupper (properly pronounced as "Kah-nob-strooper") is a rare breed of warmblood believed to have begun in 1812 with a mare named Flaebe who lived in Denmark. Villars Lunn of the Knabstrupgaard manor bought her from a butcher, who had purchased her from a Spanish officer during the Napolean Wars.
Flaebe was dark red (Danish = Zobelfuchs) with white mane and tail, and her body was covered extensively with small white snowflakes. She also had brown spots on her white blanket. She was a quality horse, with exquisite beauty. She was used as a workhorse and also proved to be very rugged. All of Flæbe's progeny displayed fantastic spotted color, not once did she give birth to a solid foal, even to a solid stallion. Flæbe was once covered by a chestnut Frederiksborg stallion, and the colt foal she had as a result of this in 1813, was named the Flæbestallion. Flæbestallion also had an unusual coat color and was often described as having a special metallic glow with many different colors in his coat. It was this colt, Flæbestallion, that was the foundation sire for the new spotted breed. As a result of his birth, Flæbe became the “breed mother” of the Knabstrupper horse.
During the 1870s, there began an unavoidable demise at the Knabstrupgaard stables. At the Lunn family stable, the herd maintained between 40 and 50 spotted horses at the time between the two Schleswig-wars, all descendants of Flæbe. This inbreeding caused great difficulties in retaining color and quality, and the breed vitality began to deteriorate. 22 Knabstrupper horses were killed during a fire in 1891, and it was this fire (combined with the problems of inbreeding) that caused the numbers and profile of the breed to recede. However, breeders began outcrossing to horses of Knabstrupper parentage, and a new lineage of spotted horses was nurtured.
The Knabstrup Association (Knabstrupperforeningen for Danmark) was founded in 1971 and is the Motherbook for the breed. Still known by the same name today,
Knabstrupper horses are in great demand and the breed is ever popular
with riders and drivers alike. They are intelligent, high-spirited, energetic, not temperamental or malicious, and generally have no stable vices. One
of the most
characteristics of the Knabstrupper is their superb temperament which
allows them to perform and excel
in a variety
of equestrian disciplines with children, adults, and even
"Knabstruppers are the ideal horses suitable for an amateur rider with their easy going natures, yet good enough for a professional because of their ability. Due to their outstanding movements, which are powerful, but easy to be controlled they are also used for therapeutic work. The breed is used not only for leisure and hobby riding but also for the most advanced equestrian disciplines including dressage, eventing, show jumping, hunt seat, and Houte Ecole."
-Brent Branderup 'Knabstruppers'
Several Knabstrupper Stallions have participated and placed in international 30 & 70 day testing while going up against traditional warmblood breeds. For a breed with such small numbers, we think it's significant that more than a couple are competing at the upper levels of competition. In the international Para-Equestrian discipline, two Knabstrupper stallions have gone on to win silver and gold medals at the Paralympics while yet another has gotten his rider to the Paralympic qualifiers as a short notice replacement. A handful of Knabstruppers are also competing in the U.S. at Prix St. George level or above despite there not being many in the show ring.
Currently there are less than 2500 Knabstruppers in the world and little more than a couple hundred here, in the United States. While in an effort to introduce the breed to the USA in 2002 (and before that in the 1970's) a few Appaloosa's have been entered into the breed, the KNN ultimately ruled against them in admittance into the Main Book.
Our Knabstruppers do not contain any unapproved blood in their pedigrees!!!
Solid horses appeared sometimes, and that was acceptable as long as color is bred back in. It is not of great importance if we use a solid horse once in a while, as long as we remember to breed back to a colored horse again. If the color is available, the Knabstrupper genes and character will dominate. Some breeders even began breeding the color into ponies since it was so appealing to children, and the Knabstrupper can even be found in miniature.
The Knabstrupper horse is a natural trotter, and as a type, the “Trakenher” horse is closest to the original type (though the classic type is considered baroque like that of a Lipizzan, Andalusian, or Lusitano). It is a common opinion that the “Frederiksborg” horse is the breeding strain of the “Knabstrupper” horse, and that is not completely incorrect; but the “Frederiksborg” horse has a very high action, which is not attractive for a riding horse. The best breeding results came after crossing with “Trakenher” horses and “Holsteiner” horses.
With so few Knabstruppers in the world and virtually no purebred specimens left, 'Knight Equine' is absolutely committed to further establishing (and maintaining) the Knabstrupper breed here in the United States.