New research by the dating website IllicitEncounters.com, revealed that horse riding is the nation’s favourite fantasy first date.

Three hundred subscribers to the site, billed the “top affairs website”, were asked what their ideal first date was and the most popular choice was horse riding, with 37% of the votes.

It beat going to the cinema (21%), going sailing (16%), having a candle-lit dinner (13%) and going for drinks in a pub (9%).

Psychologist Lucy Redford was unsurprised by the news.

She said: “When women think about their ideal first date they associate passion and exciting things with romantic success. Horses are also associated with wealth, which in itself is attractive, and they require a lot of attention and care – and most women look for an attentive, caring man.

Something very over-the-top like a flight to Paris is intimidating and extravagant, whereas horse riding takes your mind off the pressure of a first date — it’s fun and shows you’ve put thought into it.”

Claire Page, spokesperson for IllicitEncounters.com, added: “There’s something incredibly romantic about riding a horse alongside a lover, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s the number one fantasy first date.

Hollywood has glamorised horse riding with movies like Seabiscuit, Hidalgo, Something to Talk About and All the Pretty Horses, and there’s something incredibly passionate about darting into the wind on a horse – it’s liberating and exciting.”

The least popular first dates were hot air balloons trips (2.5%), a football match (2.5%), a trip to a museum (2%), a massage (1.5%), a trip abroad (1%), fringe stand-up comedy (1%) and shopping (0.5%).

Ref: Horse & Hound; 23 April 2015