The breed was developed in America in Kentucky & Missouri, but has it's roots in the English Gallaway, Palfrey and Ambling bloodlines, as well as the early Thoroughbred (through Messenger & the Darley Arabian) and Morgan bloodlines.
Any colour is acceptable in the purebred American Saddlebred except Appaloosa. The most common colour is chestnut, although in the UK the most common colour is pinto (skewbald or piebald).
The American Saddlebred has a willing and "can do" temperament and genuinely like to be around people. Appearing fiery to the casual observer they are the ultimate riding horse and can excel in any discipline. They are upheaded, with a long graceful neck and a tail carried high. They are lightweight in build with fine chiseled features, clean through the throat and level on the croup. Renowned for having 5 gaits, in addition to walk, trot and canter, some bloodlines excel in two additional gaits, the slow gait and the rack. Both are lateral 4-beat gaits offering little movement to the ride in the saddle.
In the UK there are upwards of 150 purebreds and in the regional of 300 partbreds. They were introduced to the UK in the 1960's by the Roundhills Stud in Oxford and then grew in popularity from the late 1980's.
The term the "peacock of the show ring" is often given to the American Saddlebred, and this is very apt, as they love to perform in front of a crowd - the more whoops and cheers they get, the more they perform. Due to their history they make excellent endurance mounts, are great for hacking and have the aptitude and physique to make top dressage horses and eventing mounts - in fact they can turn their hooves to just about any task given to them.
American Saddlebreds are notoriously long-lived and life spans in excess of 25 years are not uncommon.