It was in 2000 that Mike & Caroline Athey decided that they wanted to begin a horse breeding operation. Mike had retired after a long career with the Air Force and Caroline had inherited her childhood farmland after the death of her parents. Caroline had always loved horses – particularly those with loud leopard spots. Mike loved animals in general. A friend, warmblood breeder Rebecca Pennington of Sonesta Farms, told them about the Danish Knabstrupper, a warmblood breed of sport horse that was the original ancestor of the American Appaloosa. Mike & Caroline were fascinated and decided this was the breed with which they wanted to be involved. What a shock it was to learn that there were NO Knabstruppers anywhere in North America. That was enough for them. They decided to introduce this ancient and beautiful breed to the United States. So began the quest….
Some of the mares and foals of Macarn Farm
Apollon, foundation Knabstrupper sire in Germany at Guestet Falkenhorst
The hurdles were many. There was no breeding stock in North America. Cost of importation of breeding age horses is very high. Importation of weanlings and yearlings meant bringing in uninspected and unapproved stock, since warmbloods may not be bred unless and until they have been inspected and approved by the parent registry. Offspring of unapproved mares and stallions cannot be registered, defeating the purpose of the breeding program. The Knabstrupper registry was not willing to come to the United States to inspect and approve the young horses. What to do? It seemed hopeless.
With the help of Rebecca Pennington of Sonesta Farms and Gwen Gregorio of Guestet Falkenhorst in Germany(owner of arguably the number one Knabstrupper stallion in the world), the Atheys contacted Otto Schalter, breeding director of the Rheinland-Pfalz-Saar, a Germany warmblood registry that had an affiliate in the United States. Herr Schalter worked diligently to obtain permission to inspect breeding stock for Knabstrupper registration. With the help of the RPSI, the Atheys presented their first 3 mares for approval in September, 2001. Two of those mares were already in foal to Apollon. All three were accepted with enthusiasm. A fourth mare was added in December, 2001.
The first North American bred Knabstruppers arrived on April 1 and May 10, 2002. They are two gorgeous fillies! The first, Macarn's American Beauty, was born live on the internet with thousands of people watching from all over the world to see the historic moment. See photos of the filies on "Our Foals" page. Since this beginning, the Atheys have seen the birth of fourteen Knabstrupper foals - and the birth of the second generation of Knabstruppers born in North America when Macarns First Encore (from the first year of breeding) gave birth to her first foal in 2006.
To learn more about the Knabstrupper horse, visit the website of the American Knabstrupper Association at www.knabstruppers.com
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