The European Knabstrupper, like its American cousin the Appaloosa, is known for its spotted and variable coat that can be traced back to prehistoric horses from what is now Spain. This horse is quick-witted, tall and long-legged, which makes it well-suited for equestrian sports such as dressage and driving.
Scientific & Common Names
Genus & Species - Equus ferus caballus
Common Name - Knabstrupper, Knabstrup
Knabstruppers are known for their kind and gentle temperament, but they are also incredibly intelligent and very curious, to the point of being a bit nosey. Like the Appaloosa, the Knabstrupper features the leopard complex mutation that gives it a very distinctive spotted coat. These breeds were developed independently of each other, but both can trace their lineage to the Spanish spotted horse, which was brought to the New World from Europe by Cortez.
The original Knabstrupper was born when a chestnut colored mare with leopard complex was bred with a solid coated stallion. The breed had almost disappeared by the late 1800s, and many horse breeds have since been cross-bred with Knabstruppers to reinforce it, so it is unclear if there are any purebred examples remaining. In the 1970s Appaloosa were cross-bred with Knabstruppers to give a further boost to the breed, since their origins are similar.
Knabstrups are known for their kind temperament, as well as their strength and hardiness. They are intelligent and highly trainable, with great stamina.
Spotted horses have been seen in cave paintings from over 20,000 years ago, and it's believed they developed in the area that we now call Spain. The Knabstrupper is one of the oldest established breeds in Europe, dating back to 1812. Though numbers dwindled in the late 19th century, and were made even worse by a fire in which 22 top breeding horses were lost, there have been several attempts to reinvigorate the breed over the years. Knabstruppers were not brought to the United States until 2002, when breeding programs were instituted in Texas.
The Knabstrupper is used in a variety of equestrian competitions, including dressage, driving, riding, and jumping. It is a widespread horese that is currently bred in may European countries, as well as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.