Online dating sites for horse lovers

"When I think of traditional dating agencies in the countryside, I imagine women in spectacles wearing tweeds and lots of underwear," says Sarah Beeny, founder of dating website My Single Friend.

"The internet has opened up a fun and less embarrassing way for people to meet new people in their area." Young country dwellers also organise their social lives on Facebook. I tell as many people as possible about the website now." But the internet can't solve the problem of geography.

"Jamie lives less than eight miles away but I'd never met him.

It turned out my parents knew his parents and I was friends with his brother." However, in the past five years, social networking sites have revolutionised rural dating.

"It's how you hear about hunt balls, Young Farmers meetings and parties, and you can see who is going," says Vittoria Pannizon, 27, who lives in Gloucestershire. "After that we kept bumping into each other and eventually went out for supper in Cirencester." Vicky Cooke, 34, a teacher living in a village near Rugby, met her fiancé, Richard Jones, 33, from Sutton Coldfield, on My Single Friend. "Dating in the country is always a problem due to distances," Mary Balfour says.

"All my friends are married and starting families, and no one wanted to go out on the pull. "Richard was the third person I met through My Single Friend. "You can meet people but the fact you have to drive puts pressure on any date.

"When they ask me why I'm single, I never know how to respond," she says. Here in the country people wonder what's wrong with you.

But I'd rather be on my own than with someone who isn't quite right.

"I'd never go to one on my own," Charlotte says, "but as long as I have a wingman, I'm fine." This is exactly the right approach, according to dating expert Mary Balfour.

People often ask why Charlotte Martin hasn't got a boyfriend.

She's an attractive 31-year-old from Hungerford in Berkshire with a successful career as a three-day event rider and a busy social diary.

The nationwide body of 662 clubs hosts social events throughout the year such as parties and quizzes.

A study by Louise Elliott, a land agent for Savills, suggests that the parents of about half of people in farming communities met via Young Farmers and a quarter were introduced by a farming friend.

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