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The Knabstrupper or Knabstrup is a Danish breed of horse with an unusual range of coat coloration.

Knabstrupper Baron.jpg
Knabstrupper horse
Other names Knabstrup
Country of origin Denmark
Distinguishing features Leopard complex colouring common.
Breed standards



The breed is usually around 15.2 to 16 hands (62 to 64 inches, 157 to 163 cm), but there are also pony sized ones (under 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). Coat patterns range from solid to a full leopard spotted coat, with many variants in between. The spotted coat is caused by a genetic mechanism called the Leopard complex. The spotted color patterns common in the Knabstrupper are seen in other breeds, such as the Appaloosa horse, though the two breeds developed independently of one another. The breed generally has either warmblood or Baroque horse conformation.

Some Knabstruppers are born with solid colors, such as bay or chestnut.[1]


A Knabstrupper being ridden sidesaddle.

The Knabstrupper breed was first established in 1812 in Denmark. A chestnut mare with leopard complex blanket markings was bred to a solid-colored stallion, producing a colt with dramatic spotting. The mare and her son were each bred to many other horses, producing many offspring with spotting and establishing the Knabstrupper as a breed.

This breed was once very popular, but later was crossbred with other horses and it is not certain if any purebreds from this breed remain. They do well in dressage and show jumping, and are used in general riding, as carriage horses and as circus horses.[2] In 1971, three Appaloosa stallions were imported to Denmark to add new blood to the Knabstrupper breed.[3]

Knabstruppers today are bred in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Netherland, United Kingdom, USA, and, most recently, Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand.


  1. ^ Knabstrup horse breed information. Retrieved 2.8.09 from
  2. ^ Horse-Owners-World. (2007). Knabstrup. Retrieved 2.8.09 from
  3. ^ "Some History about The Knabstrup Horse". Knabstrupperforeningen for Danmark. 2005. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 

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