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eNEWSLETTER - October 2007

Dear subscriber

It has been a long while since I wrote a newsletter, and that isn't because nothing has happened, far from it. We had 3 lovely foals this year, but more importantly there was the KNN conference in Denmark. So this newsletter will contain a report on the conference plus some pictures Anabel and Jon took at the stallion show.
Click on the photos below to see them larger

I'll catch you up with our news in the next newsletter.

Report on the KNN conference

The whole conference was well organized, we were superbly fed, and came away with so much information it is hard to assimilate it all. The conference was extremely well organized and well done and congratulations must go to Ena Sparre, Kristin Engerstrøm, Poul Gerhard Pedersen, Tina Pedersen, Jenda Sanderson, and all the others who worked so hard to bring this about. We thank you and congratulate all of you on a job very well done.

The conference was attended by a wide array of folks from all over; we had representatives from USA (myself and Raven Walters), UK (Annabel & Jon Firmin, Teresa Vimmerslev), Italy (Francesco Fusi), France (Kristina Waern & Pascal Darrouy), Sweden (Kristin Engerstrøm), Germany (Heinz & Thomas Hackmann) and of course Denmark. Annette from Norway could not attend but sent us a letter.

A few spot stallion by Xantos The eventual Best in Show, Theis af Virklyst
The eventual Best in Show, Theis af Virklyst. A few spot stallion by Xantos, out of Majco Thunder-Star, by Thunder Boy.

We had presentations on the History of the Knabstrupper and its origins with some of the legends and stories and lots of old photographs from the archives of Merete Norring.

The most salient point here being that over the centuries the Knabstrupper has been bred to produce the kind of horse that was wanted at the time for various purposes. There really is no typical Knabstrupper type for all time. Like most old horse breeds the type and build of the Knabstrupper has been changed to meet the needs of the times.

Very spotty and incomplete record keeping at the various stud farms plus the loss of records in several bankruptcies that followed various wars meant that there were many horses lost to the archives.

Thus it was decided, when the first registry of spotted horses (that went to become the KNN) was formed, to include all horses that showed the spotting pattern into a new registry. It was felt that horse that showed the spotting pattern were most probably horses of Knabstrupper decent who had been unrecorded.

In the 50's and 60's the advent of the tractor and the gasoline engine for cars meant that the use of the horse in farming & transport dropped and like many other working horse breeds the numbers of Knabstrupper dropped precipitously.

In the 1960's it was decided that the breed was in danger of inbreeding due to low numbers. 3 stallions of Appaloosa breeding were selected to introduce new genes into the gene pool. These 3 stallions carefully selected by the Board of the KNN are the ONLY Appaloosas that have been included into the gene pool.

As the Appaloosa existed (at that time) only in America, mares (in Europe) of unknown breeding that showed the spotted pattern were most likely to be of Knabstrupper descent and thus could be included in the registry. This is NOT the case today. And as there are only 1200 purebred Knabstruppers in the world and many thousands of Appaloosas, there is severe danger of swamping the breed with Appaloosa genes if they allowed unfettered registration of Appaloosa mares into the Main Stud Book.

However the KNN recognize the need for inclusion of these mares at some point. Thus the compromise was reached that Appaloosa mares (that show the spotted pattern) can be registered into a pre-registry called the Appendix, and after 3 generations of approved parentage the great grand progeny can then enter the Main Stud book.

Boleo, few spot Stallion Nevada, by Ravaldi out of Rhodezia Z by Rafelli Z
Boleo, few spot Stallion
Nevada, by Ravaldi out of Rhodezia Z by Rafelli Z

We had a presentation on the Stud Book, how it is organized and divided. The reasons for the rules and the allowed crossbreeds. How inspections and gradings are done and organized and how they are scored.

The Studbook now has two parts.

  • The Main Stud book divided into sections A, B, C, D and E
  • A new Appendix book.
  • The Appendix section has 3 sections F1, F2 and F3.
  • For inclusion in the Main Stud book a horse MUST have 3 generations of acceptable parentage recorded. Acceptable in this instance means Knabstrupper or accepted outcross breeding.
  • Horses with less than 3 generations are put into the Appendix. If subsequently the parents (or grandparents) are accepted then the horse can move up into the appropriate section of either the Appendix or the Main Stud book.

In the Main Stud Book

  1. is for fully graded stallions that have passed their performance test and final grading, and fully graded mares.
  2. is for Approved stallions with a breeding license, either full or limited according to the pure bred program, who have not yet passed their performance test.
  3. is for Stallions graded with an Approved EU Knabstrupper Society, (e.g. ZdPF or RPSI, this section does NOT include Book II stallions from these registries).
  4. is for colt/filly progeny of A, B or C stallions that are eligible to be put forward for grading. After grading they move to the appropriate section of the studbook.
  5. progeny by Knabstrupper stallions from D or E sections,
    • Colts cannot be put forward for grading, (e.g. cannot become approved stallions, but are registered as Knabstruppers for riding and performance purposes).
    • Filly progeny out of E3 mares sired by stallions from A, B, C or approved outcross. May be put forward for grading but remains in E3. If the great dam sire is subsequently approved then the mare can move to D.

Appendix section:

  • Mares showing the color pattern but have unacceptable parentage or unknown pedigrees are put into section F1.
  • Daughters of F1 mares sired by Knabstrupper stallions from A, B, or C are entered into F2.
  • Daughters out of F2 mares sired by Knabstrupper stallions from A, B or C or by approved outcross stallions are put into F3.
  • Progeny from F3 mares sired by approved Knabstrupper stallions from A, B or C or approved outcross stallions can be entered into Section D of the main studbook.
  • Thus all Appaloosa mares will be F1, their daughters by an approved Knabstrupper stallion will be F2, and those daughters by either A, B or C Knabstrupper stallions or approved outcross stallions will be F3.

We were introduced to the HesteData database and how to use it to get information on horses.
An introduction to the Database set up by Torbin Heeris,
Plus we had a workshop on how to use these databases.
How to predict the color inheritance and how to calculate degree of inbreeding.

A presentation on preservation of genetic diversity in small populations. (Dr Torkild Liboriussen). The most salient point Dr Liborissuen made was that with such a small population there was a need for outcrossing. His suggestions was "to use the inbred (whiteborn) males on outcross females" that was the way to bring in the outside genes but to keep the color. Dr Liboriussen also supported the current purebred breeding program that the Danes are implementing.

Muddergrøftens Frode by Felix out of Pil by Tyfon Coco's Cognac by Coco's Irish Magic out of Jannika by Hefastios
Muddergrøftens Frode by Felix out of Pil by Tyfon
Coco's Cognac by Coco's Irish Magic out of Jannika by Hefastios

A presentation on preserving genetics in small populations. (Francesco Fusi). Dr Fusi explained the Hardy-Weinberg rule and showed us how by judicious outcrossing and then rebreeding back to the purebreds we could both introduce new genes, keep the gene pool viable and yet retain the characteristics of the breed. The system he explained is used in the Trakhener breed another old breed with low numbers, & wide distribution and also in danger of being swallowed up into the larger pool of warmblood horses. The system was called the F1-R1 system, where each first generation outcross (F1) is bred back to a purebred to produce the R1 generation who has some of the new genes but a preponderance of the old genetic material.

This system prevents the problems found from repeated outcrossing over several subsequent generations as then there is danger of the original genetic material being overwhelmed, the example of this being the Appaloosa horse, who's original type and genes were lost by the unfettered outcrossing to Quarterhorses, thus resulting in "a Quarterhorse with spots". Dr Fusi felt that with the unfettered outcrossing to warmbloods the Knabstrupper faced the danger of becoming "a warmblood with spots".

And a presentation on the degree of inbreeding in 3 Danish horse populations (including the Knabstrupper). Janne Thirstrup.

Ms Thirstrup showed us inbreeding charts for 3 indigenous Danish breeds, the Knabstrupper, the Jutland Horse and the Fredericksborg horse. Of the 3 populations the Knabstrupper showed the least amount of inbreeding due to the open studbook. Thus the Knabstrupper has a wider range genetic variation than the other breeds and was considered the least 'at risk'.

Then each representative from each country gave a short presentation on the situation in their country and what stage they were at.

On the Saturday we attended the stallion grading and had the chance after the show to ask the judges questions as to why they decided what they did and to discuss the various horses presented. We have pictures from that show, taken by Jon Firmin. I hope you enjoy them.

For those of us in the USA the most important bit is the changes in the registration rules.

  • In a nutshell all mares with spotted patterning but not of approved ancestry (e.g. Appaloosa mares) will entered into the new Appendix registry, as F1 mares.
    Their offspring by APPROVED Knabstrupper stallions are then in the Appendix as F2.
    The foals from the F2 mares by either approved Knabstrupper or approved outcross stallions are F3. And the foals from the F3 mares by approved stallions can become main studbook horses.
  • NO Stallions can come from Appendix studbook mares! A stallion MUST have 3 generations minimum of Knabstrupper or approved outcross breeding.
  • Stallions entered in to Stallion Book 2 of the German Federations (ZdPF or RPSI) WILL NOT be accepted as breeding stallions and their offspring are entered in the Appendix registry.

So the lesson I take home is; while it is possible to use Appaloosa mares and over 3 generations of breeding them to approved stallions end up with Main Stud Book horses, it is a lot quicker if you use an approved (whiteborn) stallion over approved outcross mares. That way you have Main Stud Book horses in the first generation, plus you can be sure of color. But there is a route of entry for those with Appaloosa mares.

In all the conference was a great learning experience plus a chance to meet fellow Knab breeders from around the world. The common denominator here was our love of these spotted horses.

Congratulations to the organizers and all who worked on this. I had a great time and was glad to meet fellow Knab lovers.

Yours truly,
Melyni Worth