The Knabstrupper horse is believed to have originated from prehistoric spotted horses that also produced the Appaloosa horse. In 1812 the Knabstrupper started with a single chestnut blanket spotted mare called Flæbe purchased by Major Villars Lunn who owned an estate in Denmark called "Knabstrupgaard". The mare was used as a carriage horse and later bred to a Fredricksborg stallion and Flæbe and her colt foal, Flæbestallion, born in 1813 became the foundation for the Knabstrupper.
By the 1870s the limited number of Knabstrupper horses lead to unavoidable problems of inbreeding and in 1891 a fire at the Lunn family stables killed 22 of its top breeding horses. By 1900 the numbers of Knabstruppers had declined significantly and supporters of the Knabstrupper horses set about to re-establish the breed. In 1971 breeder Frede Nielsen brought 3 Appaloosa stallions to Denmark to introduce new blood into the Knabstrupper breed.
Knabstrupper horses exhibit the same white patterns as the Appaloosa as they share the same pattern genes from the prehistoric spotted ponies.
The Knabstrupper has mottled skin on the muzzle, around the eyes and on the genitals. It also has white sclera and striped hooves. Knabstrupper horses can be any solid base colour.
There are several distinct spotted patterns and each horse is unique.
- Leopard Spot is a white horse with evenly distributed coloured spots.
- Near Leopard is similar to Leopard Spot but with coloured head and legs.
- Spotted Blanket is a coloured horse with a white back and/or hindquarters within which there are coloured spots.
- White Blanket is a coloured horse with a white back and/or hindquarters without spots
- Snowflake is a coloured horse with white spots over the body.
- Frosted Hip or Frosted Blanket is a coloured horse with white frosting or white spots over the loin and hips.
- Marble is coloured at birth but roans with age to almost white.
- Few Spot (leopard) is white with just a few spots.