Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Knabstrup (Knab)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Knabstrup (also known as Knabstrupper) is a European horse breed, originated in Denmark, which is known for its spotted coat. It is named after "Knabstrupgaard Manor", where the breed was first created. In May 1812, the owner of the manor, a man named Villars Lunn, bought a uniquely spotted-colored mare called Flaebe. Besides her unique color, Flaebe was also famous at the time for her impressive stamina, and her willingness to work.

Because of her uniqueness, Flaebe was crossed with a Frederiksborg stallion, and became the foundation mare of the Knabstrup breed. She gave birth to a colt who was named "The Flaebestallion". Similarly to his mother, The Flaebestallion also had a uniquely spotted coat color. He became the foundation sire of the Knabstrup breed.

Knabstruppers became known for their stamina and speed, which is why the Danish officers of that time decided to ride them to the First Schelswig War. Unfortunately, the strikingly colorful coats of their horses made them visible to the enemy snipers, which led to many casualties on the Danish frontlines. Denmark did win the war eventually, but their Knabstrup horses were never again used for fighting.

By the 1870s there weren't many Knabstrup Horses in Denmark, which led to excessive inbreeding, an issue that resulted in horses of lesser quality. Because of that, the breed lost its prestige, and their numbers dwindled. Only devoted Knabstrup breeders made sure the breed won't go extinct, but the number of Knabstrups remained small.

The inbreeding issue lasted until the 1970s, when Knabstrup breeders decided to cross their Knabstrups with horses of other breeds to stop the ongoing inbreeding. For example, breeder Frede Nielsen imported three Appaloosa stallions from the USA to Denmark, in order to incorporate new blood into the Knabstrup breed while ensuring that the offspring will have a spotted coat. Another approach, taken by other breeders, was to cross their Knabstrup horses with European warmbloods, mainly Trakehners and Holsteiners. This created more athletic Knabstrup horses, that were better suited for show jumping and dressage.

Today, the Knabstrup is still considered a rare breed, but the number of Knabstrups is increasing, mainly because of their potential in show-jumping and dressage.

Knabstrups stand between 14.2hh to 17hh, but their average height is usually 15.1hh to 16hh. They are primarily bay, brown, black, or chestnut in color, though other colors can be found as well. Coat colors of grey, piebald, and skewbald are forbidden from registering and breeding. Knabstrups come in all versions of leopard coats, and even though solid-colored individuals exist, they must breed only with spotted Knabstrups.

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