Did I download Tinder for the purpose of this experiment? Yes. Yes, I did.
Begrudgingly, of course. But fight it all you want, the era of online dating is here. I know, *groan*. Swiping through hundreds of strangers holding dead fish and red solo cups isn’t how you pictured meeting your soulmate.
Personally, my unrealistic standards can be traced back to the first time I saw The Princess Bride, where a tousled blonde Westley galloped up to Buttercup and only ever uttered the words “as you wish.” Once upon a time, but certainly not ours.
For equestrians, online dating is even more complicated because of the crazy horse girl stereotype. So you might be tempted to omit horses from your profile altogether, concealing the fact that you spend every possible moment at the barn. You wonder if it’s better to wait until the third, no fourth date when you arrive smelling like horse sweat to break the news.
This is the wrong move.
Equestrianism is your greatest weapon in the war against bad dates. It’s such an accurate filter that I have even encouraged my non-riding friends to grab photos with my mare so they can take advantage of what I call the “horse filter phenomenon.” (More on that in a minute.)
So before wasting an outfit, gas and time you could have spent at the barn, here’s my case study of why you should include horses in your Tinder profile. Source: trust me.
Welcome to horse girl Tinder, boys.
So there was no confusion, my bio read “Rider of horses, writer of stories” along with one riding photo and a cute candid with my mare. I also mixed in some snapshots in civilian clothes, so it was enough to tempt them, but not too in your face.
Just like that, they started waving their red flags and falling into my trap. Keep in mind, these are all guys I matched with, and I’m incredibly picky. I think I developed mild tendonitis just from swiping left in the initial screening process.
Note: For accuracy, I paced this out over the course of a year across several different countries.
Save a horse, ride a cowboy?
We’ve all been hit with variations of this line. The most infuriating part isn’t actually the intention (though it’s far from chivalrous even in modern times). It’s how every guy thinks they’re being unique and clever. You didn’t invent the wheel, my friend. Your lame pick-up line didn’t even pass the jog.
This is the horse filter in full effect. I may be a horse girl, but now in 30 seconds or less I know you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog. See? Effective and efficient.
Eventually, I grew tired of letting them live with this bemused air of superiority and just had to let them know they were being boring and creepy before I unmatched them.
Sometimes I would pull an UNO reverse card by asking for their hobby, sport or profession, then immediately finding some way to objectify it just to give them a little perspective. I won’t attach the chats in an effort to keep this article PG-13, but you can trust I made them uncomfortable.
The ones that didn’t pay any attention
A lot of matches asked for clarification on the level of my equine-centric lifestyle, despite it being overtly obvious. You’d think scanning the profile would be a prerequisite in taking precious time out of their day to type out a message. Data says not.
The kind of girl that is going to leave you on read now, thank you.
Or how about Sherlock here who thinks he uncovered my deepest darkest secret?
“Can I ride your horse?”
Then there are the guys who think you’re their one way ticket to pony camp, and together you’re going to ride off into the sunset. Even though they’ve never even visited a farm and would simply die if your horse got grass slobber on their new Ralph Lauren shirt.
Um, right after you let me take your shiny lifted pick-up truck for a spin, test out your expensive driving clubs on the mini golf course and/or let me join your Xbox Live party. Probably never.
Not so much offensive as mildly irritating are the “entertain me” types.
This one was neither here nor there, and I wasn’t charmed or insulted enough to remember to respond.
Little did he know he swiped right to BE in a story about a horse. Maybe we never got to ride English saddle together through the English countryside, but our match is forever immortalized in this article.
Here’s where it really gets interesting.
The horse filter phenomenon is actually a quid pro quo, swipe enough and eventually it’ll help you separate the princes from the frogs. While I only expected to come away from my messages feeling hopeless for the horse girls in digital generations to come, some courageous gentlemen stepped up to save my faith.
You dropped your crown, sir. This is original and funny. I’ll trot all the way to a date with peak, satirical humor like this. It’s official, “Save a horse ride a cowboy” lines are out, equestrian pick-up puns are in.
First impressions matter
It’s like showing your horse the first jump. There’s no need to hold off on sharing important details, like how your family owns a house on a horse farm. It’s a good sign that you’ll get along with him and his parents.
The draw has absolutely nothing to do with the instant future projection of a place to stable your horse. Definitely don’t try his last name on for size and picture looking out the kitchen window to your horses nickering at you from the pasture. That classifies as regular crazy.
Some good ol’ southern hospitality
Hear the country twang? This match was from one of the Carolina’s. Anyone who leads with a compliment, captures your essence, and then suggests a date that requires restaurant reservations jumps to the top of the roster.
Then we have planet platonic
Happy to oblige! Here’s how you know he’s genuinely interested in our sport, because he didn’t even swipe for you. He just wanted to see your horse. That’s something I can relate to.
Last but not least, the knight on a white horse.
In case you’re wondering, I matched with this guy in Italy, so excuse his grammatical errors. Porto Ferro is in the province of Sassari on the island of Sardinia. If I didn’t put horses in my profile, would I ever have galloped down an Italian coastline with the wind in my hair like some Georgio Armani perfume commercial?
I think I’ve made my case. Carrying the horse girl stigma might inspire some frustrating interactions in the age of dating apps, but being yourself is the only surefire way to find someone you can actually tolerate. Remember, they’re auditioning for a leading role in your life. You have to like them.
Good luck out there ladies, here’s to hoping you find your Westley. Even if it’s on Tinder.