With Valentine's Day looming (tomorrow, 14 February), Ploy Radford susses out just how well prepared horse owners are for negotiating the perilous world of dating and relationships

1. A healthy dose of cynicism regarding online profiles

Sure the advert says that handsome gelding is as safe as houses in traffic and not phased by cars, tractors or machinery. Shame the owner forgot to mention that it bolts at the sight of what one can only presume is a hitherto unrecorded species of horse-eating butterfly. With that kind of experience, you know to beware the perfect profiles on dating apps; there’s nothing worse than finding out that Mr Darcy-a-like is a butterfly-phobic bolter after all.

2. Grooming

It is the sad truth in this age of hipsters that it’s really quite hard to find a man without a beard and even harder to find one who can pull one off with panache. You can handle the terrible dilemma of what to do when you’ve found a nice, non-bolting gentleman but he has facial hair that is more Hagrid than David Gandy, though. You have clippers and you how to use them. If you can clip half a tonne of animal regularly, the weedy hipster boyfriend is no problem.

3. The art of negotiation (or sneaky tactics to get your own way)

So that new beau thinks he couldn’t possibly come to tea with the parents. Well, he clearly wasn’t listening when you told him about that time you enlisted friends, distant relatives and passers by to help catch your horse with SAS-worthy tactics. And you’ve long since moved on from the ‘point and pray’ showjumping technique to a skilful negotiation of courses that ends in rosettes. He will be coming to tea. Cleanly shaven.

4. An appreciation for the importance of food

You (and unfortunately your bank manager) know well the importance of food in keeping darling Prince happy and the stable door intact. You are therefore attune to a certain correlation between food and stroppiness in the human male too. Of course, you’re far too busy to start playing housewife (Prince needs feeding after all) but in the interests of a quiet life, you know it is advisable to chuck the boyfriend a snack or two or take him occasionally to a nice steak house. (While sadly lamenting over the fact he can’t be kept happy with apples and carrots too.)

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5. An ability to deal with his sh…. manure

… well, an equestrian does literally spend their day surrounded by manure. Actually, everywhere. Your horse should be in the Guinness World Records book for pooing talent. So, if the latest catch turns out to be a right commitment-phobic, lying, no-hoper, then, you’ll be OK. You have a great four legged friend to provide support (or at least distraction in the form of picking up all the poo), after all.