The Knabstrupper is a horse breed of old, believed to have established on the Knabstrupgaard estate in Denmark in 1812, although spotted horses have been present in Denmark as far back as the 16th century. The breed stems back to one founding mare (named ‘Flaeb’s Mare’) that was purchased by a Danish butcher and later sold on to Major Villars Lunn who owned Knabstrupgaard.
Recognising the mare’s easy movement, good trainability and temperament, Flaeb’s Mare was mated to a Fredricksborg stallion. The offspring of this breeding became some of the most desirable horses in Europe at the time, with the horses’ striking appearance gaining the keen interests of enthusiasts working in numerous fields.
During the Schleswig War of 1848-1850, the Knabstrupper was widely enlisted as a war mount, although its distinctive leopard spotting made it an easy target for enemy snipers. No longer used as such, the Knabstrupper became popular as a working agricultural animal and also proved its worth in the show ring. Today, the Knabstrupper is seen in dressage and show-jumping, although breed numbers are very low.
Typical, a healthy Knabstrupper will measure between 15-16 hands although smaller horses are occasionally seen and coat patterns range from solid through to leopard spotting, the most desired appearance. In light of its coat, the Knabstrupper is often confused with the Appaloosa.
The Knabstrupper gained its shining reputation after Flaeb’s Mare rode 30 km to receive the doctor when Major Villars Lunn was trampled by a carriage and left with a badly broken leg. Although Flaeb’s Mare completed the round-trip with another horse, it was damaged and unable to work afterwards, while the founding Knabstrupper was back in the field for work the following morning.
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