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Other Sports - 13. February 2013.

War Horse star, Jeremy Irvine voted perfect Valentine’s date

With over 3 million riders in the UK, Horse & Country TV set out to discover where their viewers' loyalty really lies this Valentine’s day.

    72% of women surveyed would rather go out for a ride on their horse than spend the day with their partner
    75% of respondents said they gave their horse more attention than their partner
    44% said they would be spending Valentine’s Day with their horse rather than their partner
    Jeremy Irvine’s performance in War Horse topped the list of perfect horse-riding celebrity Valentines with 28% of the vote – beating the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (25%), and Russell Crowe in Les Misérables (18%)
    1 in 3 (33%)  people claimed they would be getting their horse a Valentine’s gift

When asked what would be their perfect Valentine’s gift, not one respondent asked for the standard sexy underwear, box of chocolates or bunch of roses, with many preferring a comfy pair of jodhpurs
The Brits have always been known for their love of horses, and with three quarters of equine fans questioned in Horse & Country TV’s study, preferring to spend the day riding out on their horse this Valentine’s Day, it seems partners may lose out.

It appears that our bond with our equine friends may be longer lasting than just Valentine’s Day, as out of the 1000+ people questioned, 75% give their horse more attention than their partner.

The survey also proved what a sentimental bunch we can be, with one in three people planning on buying their horse a present on Valentine’s Day. When it came to gifts for us, the clichéd choices of flowers and chocolates were not top of the list, with respondents preferring more practical gifts like jodhpurs, boots and even horse tack. Interestingly lingerie was nowhere in sight with some of the quirkiest answers including:

    A new engagement ring (lost it in a field!)
    For my husband to suddenly love horses
    A lorry load of organic hay
    A winning Lottery Ticket to buy more horses

They may have not have been awarded a BAFTA this week, but leading actors Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) will be safe in the knowledge that their performances in the saddle would win plenty of hearts, as they were voted as the actors on horseback respondents saw as their ideal Valentine.

Victoria Spicer, editor at Horse & Country TV (Sky Channel 280) shed some light on the survey results, commenting, “These results will strike a chord with many women who horse ride all over the UK. Spending time with horses - whether it’s just looking after them or riding - can really lift your mood, and a real rapport can develop between an owner and their horse.

Just look at the almost telepathic partnership between double Olympic dressage gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin and her horse, Valegro. In interviews after her victories in Greenwich, Charlotte was quick to give him most of the credit, saying he is ‘a once-in-a-lifetime horse’.

As with human relationships, they require effort, time and dedication. Horses are very loyal and sensitive to our emotions. Unlike wild horses, domestic horses are dependent upon us for their survival, comfort and well-being. A great deal of blood, sweat and tears can go into the care of a horse, so it's no wonder why a real bond develops”.

“We all crave escapism and some “me time”, and perhaps this is why women prefer to spend the day with their equine friends. Nor do horses answer back - which probably helps!”

Victoria is also clearly passionate about the health benefits that horse riding can have, here are her top tips:

    Horse riding provides a cardiovascular workout, similar to working hard in the gym, so it conditions the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels
    Unlike most gym equipment, it is effective in working major muscle groups at the same time – developing leg muscles, core body strength and posture.
    According to Research undertaken by the University of Brighton and Plumpton College on behalf of The British Horse Society, respondents with long-standing illnesses or disabilities are able to ride horses at the same self-reported level of frequency and physical intensity as those without such an illness or disability.
    Riding is enjoyable and exhilarating and for many it can be a great stress reliever. Horse riding stimulates mainly positive psychological feelings, and riders are motivated by the sense of well-being they gain from interacting with horses.
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