knabstrup horse

Thanks to Kathryn Dalziel, for her interesting article on the knabstrup horse.

If anyone has a knabstrup horse photo they would be willing to share on this page please contact me, giving whatever details you would like to be displayed with the photo. Please include your name, the photographers name if appropriate, along with the horses name/s and their brief details. A link and/or email address can be included, as you wish.

This breed of horse is a most striking one - once seen you are unlikely to forget the knabstrup horse!

Knabstrup Horse - the Breed History and Characteristics.

by Kathryn Dalziel, Denmark

One of the characteristics of the Knapstrup is its interesting colouring, for example, white body hair with all over dark spots. This eye-catching combination, together with remarkable learning abilities and a good temperament have made it a popular choice as a performer in the circus.

Spotted horses date back to the age of the Vikings and they can be seen in early Chinese art. The Knabstrup dates back to the Napoleonic wars and is of Spanish ancestry. The breed was founded on a spotted mare, Flaebehoppen, who was acquired by a butcher called Flaebe (hence her name) when she was left behind by the Spanish troops. She was exceptionally fast with great endurance and in 1808 her next owner, Major Villars Lunn, crossed her with a Palomino-coloured Frederiksborg stallion and named the breed after his estate. In 1813 the mare gave birth to a colt that later became the founding father of the Knabstrup breed.

The original breed is almost extinct due to too much cross breeding and emphasis being put on breeding the coat colour rather than for conformation. The numbers of purebred Knabstrup went into decline through subsequent crossings back to the Frederiksborg, however, similar spotted horses can still be seen in Denmark.

The colour patterns vary within the breed, the most popular being the leopard which is a solid white background covered with black, bay, or chestnut spots. Other patterns include the blanket, the snowcap, the snowflake and the “few spot,” as the name suggests it is almost solid white. However, when bred it usually produces a foal with some type of spotted pattern, though there are some Knabstrups born with solid colours, such as bay, chestnut, or gray.

The breed originated in and is still bred in Denmark, it is now also bred in Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and most recently in the USA. The modern Knabstrups are bred to preserve the breed as a riding horse regardless of size. This is one of the only breeds that can present horses in all sizes, from pony size to full horse size. The horses usually stand at about 15.2 to 16.h.h and the ponies are under 14.2.h.h. The breed varies in conformation, but the best examples have reasonably good overall conformation. It is intelligent and easy to train; the head is well proportioned with a kind expression; there is mottled skin colouring on the lips and muzzle; the mane and tail are sparse. The colour is predominantly white with black or brown spots of varying size all over the body, head and legs.

This sound, tough, kind natured horse that enjoys performing, is increasing in popularity in the show ring and at competitive sports.

About The Author

Kathryn Dalziel is an artist, author and lecturer. Her specialist subject is the horse which include portraits and equine painting. For more information about horses go to the comprehensive equine site for horse enthusiasts. To view her art or to commission a portrait go to and