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Horse Archer

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Wil: So, the archers of Sacae, they're all mounted, aren't they? I'd have trouble just staying on... If I had to shoot, too, I'd be in trouble!
Rath: ...The beasts of Sacae are swift... If we could not shoot from the saddle, we would starve...

Someone who shoots a bow while on horseback.

Truth in Television for numerous civilizations, of course, with many historical armies being made up partly or primarily of horse archers. Prior to the invention of the stirrup, lance warfare demanded a great deal more skill as it required both hands holding the weapon. The Huns and Mongols are the best-known of these, and have spawned any number of clones in fantasy literature, but almost every civilization that had horses used these at some point, often to devastating effect, and the Samurai used the dai-kyu (a type of recurved longbow) from horseback up until the Meiji Restoration.

There are basically two categories of this trope. The first category are the light horse archers, who act as skirmishers and rely on agility and speed. They often specialize in Hit-and-Run Tactics, especially with archers who can spur their horse, turn around and shoot backwards as their enemies pursue.note  Naturally, since it requires expert horsemanship, it is a specialty of any Born in the Saddle culture. An honorable mention goes to earlier civilizations (Persians, Egyptians, etc.) that used chariots as a shooting platform, but in those cases it was a team of both horses and men (usually an archer, a driver, and at least two horses).

The second category are the heavy horse archers, who ride to the battle on close formations and shoot in volleys, intending to cause actual casualties instead of just harassing the enemy. They often support lancers and protect their flanks. The examples of the heavy horse archers are the Byzantine koursores and defensores, the Chinese cavalry, the Japanese samurai and the Ottoman Turkish sipahi. They are often willing and eager to engage in the hand-to-hand fighting as well. Even after firearms were introduced, they were somewhat difficult to use effectively from horseback, as a muzzle-loaded weapon requires stability, dexterity, and two hands to reload. The Renaissance pistoliers rather favoured to get close, fire both pistols, and then charge with sword. This meant that bow-wielding horsemen held on to an advantage as skirmishers, up until the invention of the revolver and breech-loaded long arms.

The MythBusters also proved that charging towards your target on a horse while firing can impart your arrows with ~70% more kinetic energy, and increase their penetration power a bit.

Mounted archery is Difficult, but Awesome, since it requires you to simultaneously control your horse without the reins, and take aim while compensating for the horse's movements. note  To work properly, this trope requires also large, unobstructed areas of flat terrain where the mounted archers could employ their mobility unhindered. Any obstructions could easily lead into a disaster, especially against heavier opponents.

In Tabletop Games and Video Games, these are a common form of the Mounted Mook and often Game-Breaker units, but not always. For balance reasons, they are often less powerful than archers who go on footnote  or are at least easily outnumbered by them,note  and if Annoying Arrows are in place already, this can lead to them being unable to effectively damage the enemy. Given that they often trade armor for speed, they can also easily be portrayed as Fragile Speedsters.note  If they can attack with swords as well, it's a case of Bow and Sword in Accord. Historically, many horse archers also carried a javelin or two for close-range work, making them Javelin Throwers as well.

Likely to be used by Hordes from the East. Especially if they are Born in the Saddle. Does not refer to a horse who is an archer, though with centaurs, there's heavy overlap.

See also: Gangland Drive-By and Vehicular Assault.


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  • A Centaur's Life: Any bow-using centaur is this by default. The main character's family is descended from the warrior class, and Hime keeps up with the tradition of using bow and arrow. Apparently she can also ride horses, but this has been alluded to instead of shown.
  • A Bride's Story. Set in 19th-century Uzbekistan, several of the main characters (especially those from the Halgal tribe of horse nomads) are skilled horse archers. Amir and her brother Azel are the two most notable examples, and Karluk later spends time with his in-laws in order to learn for himself. Set as it is during an End of an Age due to Tsarist Russia making its in-roads into the region, many of the locals are abandoning traditional horse archery in favour of modern guns and cannon, which are considerably more useful in war.
  • The Elusive Samurai: Tokiyuki's reflexes and agility make him adept at shooting arrows while riding horseback, with him eventually mastering a variation of the Parthian Shot. Throughout the story he encounters other skilled horseback archers such as the big eyed Sadamune, who excels at pinpoint accuracy, and the flamboyant Akiie, whose shots are packed with devastating firepower.

    Film — Animated 
  • Brave: Merida is an ace with a bow and arrow, and she can hit a perfect bullseye while on horseback. While jumping over a log on horseback, no less!

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Mounted troops from Rivendell slay an orc pack encroaching on the Company, some with bows and arrows.
  • King Arthur (2004): Tristan’s primary combat technique is horse archery, keeping with his Sarmatian roots (Sarmatians were steppe nomads from the eastern borders of the Roman Empire and master equestrians).
  • The Last Samurai: In their first encounter with the Japanese Imperial Army, some samurai use their characteristic yumi bows from horseback. Later seen training in the art at their village.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:
      • The Rohirrim occasionally use bows from horseback, notably in their raid on the horde of Uruk-Hai transporting Merry and Pippin.
      • During the warg attack, Legolas neatly takes down one of the beasts with an arrow from horseback (to the annoyance of Gimli, who already had the beast in his sight).
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: At the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, several mounted Rohirrim — including Éomer — attempt to take down the mumakil of the Haradrim with arrows.
  • Magadheera: The desert race between Kala Bhairava and Ranadeev Billa is interrupted by Billa's mercenaries, archers on horseback, ambushes the former, with Bhairava evading arrows as he goes. He managed to cut down one of the archers and kill another via flung knife, before losing his pursuers while nearly falling into a quicksand pit.
  • Prince Caspian: During the Second Battle of Beruna, Edmund Pevensie gets his hands on a Telmarine crossbow and fires off a couple of shots while riding.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): All the Amazon warriors of Themyscira train to be as good with bow and arrow on horseback as they are on the ground. The film features several Bullet Time shots highlighting this.

  • 1632: In The Eastern Front, one Polish general is a noted horse archer. When asked why he persists in this in an age of gunpowder, the general points out that what it really does is keep him thinking quickly and observing the terrain.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Ferdinand, when he needs to fill in as a Magic Knight. While his mount being a magical moving lion statue over which he has complete control helps, the fact that the thing can fly and Ferdinand can pull a magical Multishot from its back allows the feat to remain quite impressive.
  • Bazil Broketail: The Baguti, a horse-riding, nomadic people, are deadly using short bows from horseback, plus scimitars. Lessis therefore sets things up so they have to dismount and attack the Argonathi on foot to nullify this.
  • Belisarius Series: The Persians prefer steppe style bows that have a great rate of fire. The Roman Cataphracts prefer giant bows that can penetrate armor, at the expense of rate of fire. Rajputs are also notable Horse Archers, but not as good as Persians.
  • Deryni: The Haldane Household Archers function this way in battle, as seen in The King's Justice. In that same book, Kelson himself is one when he executes Sicard by shooting an arrow through his eye.
  • Fate/strange Fake: True Rider/Queen Hippolyta rides a horse and uses a bow and a spear.
  • Harald: The Westkin tribes are the lightly armored sort, and the Vales have cataphracts who wear heavier armor.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • The Skybolt mercenary company is primarily composed of horse archers trained in skirmish tactics. The rest of the company are dirty tricks specialists.
    • The Heralds themselves are expert equestrians and are trained in all weaponry, although their supposed focus on archery is diminished after the original trilogy. Having a Bond Creature who doesn't require direction as a mount makes aiming much easier, of course.
  • Monstrous Regiment: Implied to exist in the Zlobenian army, since the Borogravians get hold of a powerful crossbow called a "horse-bow".
  • The Mummy Monster Game: In book 1, during the challenge for the second arm of Osiris (a chariot race), the pharaoh Rameses uses a bow and arrow as his first weapon to try and ensure his victory. Josh avoids them neatly. During the final stage of the race, when Josh gets far enough ahead that Rameses' other weapons can't reach him anymore, Rameses returns to the bow and arrows but again fails to hit his target.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Mare is skilled enough at both horse riding and archery that she's this. She trains other people to shoot from the saddle too.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: While mounted archery is not used as a regular battlefield tactic, the top-level officers of Wei show off some pretty impressive instances of Improbable Aiming Skills, including one showoff who nails his shot backwards, while laying down on his horse.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: The Vardariotes, being the local Mongol Horde expies, have the horse archers as their only ranged units.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deadliest Warrior:
    • Atilla the Hun vs. Alexander the Great: The former party’s signature battle strategy is demonstrated, to lethal effect.
    • Comanche vs. Mongol: Representatives from both parties compete in a head-to-head challenge to see who can hit the most targets while mobile.
  • Game of Thrones: Dothraki boys train in mounted archery from the age of four and their skill — seen most notably at the Battle of the Goldroad — is an impressive sight to see.
  • Power Rangers Samurai: In the TV movie Clash of the Red Rangers, Blue Ranger Kevin uses his Hydro Bow while on horseback.
  • MythBusters tested the legend that the Hungarian mounted archers, with their horses running a full speed, could shoot arrows that penetrated twice as far as those shot by stationary archers. After removing the human and animal from the equation for consistent data, the team ultimately declared the myth busted, as although the arrows fired at speed had better penetration than the ones fired while stationary, they were nowhere near the extent that the legend entailed.

  • Ravages of Time: So far, Lu Bu (hailing from what was considered the western frontier of China and having access to better horses than average) is the only warlord who is seen to regularly use horse archers (a handful of the top-level archers in other armies can shoot from horseback, but they seem to be an exception and it's mostly done in emergency situations rather than as a regular tactic), but Liu Bei's army is starting to field horse-riding crossbowmen.

  • Seawitch: One of the witches fires a bow while riding on the back of a giant winged monster fish.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Mounted Archery and Improved Mounted Archery feats in 3rd Edition let the user fire from horseback while their mount is on the move with reduced penalties or no penalties at all. Improved Mounted Archery also enables the user to attack at any point in their mount's move, enabling them to kite the opponent at range.
  • GURPS treats horse archery as a "technique" of the Bow skill; levels in the technique reduce the penalties for shooting from horseback.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Tarkir's Mardu Horde has this as one of its specialties.
  • Rocket Age: The Chanari desert tribes of Mars frequently use bows on the backs of bahmoots, horse-sized, velociraptor-like reptiles. They're essentially alien Bedouin mixed with the Mongols.
  • Warhammer: Horse archers appear frequently. They're pretty much always light skirmishers and harassing/flanking units, and they range from the quite normal all the way to goblins on wolves or spiders and dark elves with repeater crossbows mounted on scaly dromeosaurs.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Rough Rider units are a more modernized take, using lasguns instead of bows, though they're more known for their devastating charges with explosive-tipped lances. The various Space Marine, Ork, and Eldar/Aldarin Badass Biker units are even more high-tech.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires has them, along with several varieties such as Chariot Archers and Elephant Archers. II has Horse Archers, and two civilisations have them as unique units, namely the Mongol's Mangudai and the Spanish Conquistador (which might not count since it uses a gun, not a bow) and then Camel Archers and Kipchaks added later on. The biggest one being the Khmer's Ballista Elephants. III has Dragoons which are basically the same as the Conquistadors from the previous game, some civilizations who have actual horse archers instead of the more usual Dragoon, and the Indians even have gunners firing from camelback. The spin-off, Age of Mythology has the Turma which throws javelins from horseback, the Centaurnote , and the Chariot Archer from the original game makes a return.
  • Civilization:
    • Civilization IV: A basic mounted unit (although, since units only have one type, theynote  count only as mounted units and not as archers when type advantages are resolved).
    • Civilization V: Appears as unique Mongol unit, while the Indians get Elephant Archers. The Huns in the first expansion also get a unique unit simply called the "Horse Archer," though players are not required to actually have access to horses in order to build them strangely enough.
  • Conqueror's Blade features four mounted archer units: Ironcap Bowriders, Khorchins, Khevtuul Cavalry, and Rattan Rangers (which latter use small crossbows instead of regular bows). There are also Outriders, bandit horsemen who throw javelins from horseback.
    • Player characters using bows can also shoot from horseback. This is actually a good tactic for archer heroes, since it gives them extra mobility as well as a height advantage.
  • Elden Ring:
    • The player can be one if they choose to wield a bow from atop Torrent.
    • Starscourge Radahn fights like this from a distance, using his bow and gravity magic to pelt foes with extra-strong arrows. When the player gets up close, he'll switch to dual-wielding greatswords which double as magical foci.
    • Royal Knight Loretta wields a halberd from horseback when fighting up close, but for ranged options, she can cast spells (Loretta's Greatbow and Loretta's Mastery) that allow her to create a giant magical bow to shoot you with.
    • Civilization VI: The Scythians acquire Saka Horse Archers once you research Horseback Riding.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: A patch allows the player to become this, although it's a bit hard since you have to aim without a reticle.
  • Endless Legend: The Roving Clans utilize only mounted, highly mobile units; even their cities are mobile. Their mounted archer, the Kassai, is the single fastest unit in the game, being able to outrun even Drakken wyverns on the Clan's native deserts.
  • Fire Emblem has had several units across the series that fill this role; additionally, this trope is regularly discussed by units of said trope in games which have support conversations. Most use the combo of Bow and Sword in Accord. They follow as:
    • The Horseman in the Archanea games. A separate, Bow-only class in the original Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, it became the promotion of the Hunter class in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. In the DS remakes Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow, they gained the use of swords.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden: The Bow Knight, the third-tier promotion for the Archer line, which can only use bows. In the remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the Overclass DLC offers them a promotion to Oliphantier class, whose default weapon is a giant bow-like cannon, with laser sights to boot.
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776: The Arch Knight and Bow Knight, who are similar to the Horseman from the original Archanea games in that they can only use Bows, but are able to promote. There is also the Master Knight, a horseback unit that can use almost every weapon, including bows.
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: The Nomad, with its promotion the Nomadic Trooper also able to use swords. They're all implied to be Sacaens, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of various Eurasian steppe tribes, making them quite distinct from the knightly and European-esque Cavaliers (and unlike Cavaliers, their steeds have little trouble crossing difficult terrain).
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: The Ranger. A promotion from Mercenaries and Archers, they use both bows and swords.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: The Bow Knight and Paladin. Notably, upon promotion from Bow Knight, the Paladin can choose from swords, lances or axes to wield, while other mounted units can choose to take bows as a secondary weapon. This was changed in the sequel Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn; the Bow Knight and Bow Paladin can only use bows until promotion to the tertiary class Silver Knight, where they gain the use of lances. The Lance Paladin also gains bows as a backup upon promotion to Silver Knight.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening: The Bow Knight. Despite sharing the same name as the Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn unit, they function the same as Rangers from The Sacred Stones, being a promotion for both Mercenaries and Archers that uses both bows and swords. This class makes a return in Fire Emblem Fates, where it's a promotion for both Mercenaries and Outlaws.note  The Bow Knight also happens to be the promotion of choice for Selena when she shows up as an enemy late in the Birthright route.
    • Fire Emblem Fates: The Kinshinote  Knight is an extreme example, being a Kinshi-riding class that learns to use bows in addition to lances.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The Bow Knight is a Master Class that uses both bows and lances. To be promoted to one, a character needs to be at least level 30, have a Rank C in Lance skill, and have a Rank A in both Bow and Riding skills. Additionally, Claude has a unique promotion called the Wyvern Master (which can be further promoted into the Barbarossa), an archer that happens to ride a giant dragon. Thanks to the new mechanic of weapons not being class restricted but instead tied to a character's weapon ranks, any mounted unit can carry a bow and become this, but they lack the to-hit and especially extra range bonuses afforded by the Bow Knight class.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: The centaurs in I, II, and V are archers (the centaurs in III are spearmen, while the ones in IV are spearthrowers).
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Aloy can pull this off using her bow while riding on the back of any tamed mount. The game's trailer even shows her doing this against a Thunderjaw.
  • Imperator: Rome: Horse Archers are one of the land military unit types. They ride Steppe Horses, a "smaller and stockier" breed that is distinct from those used by cavalry.
  • Knights of Honor has these, though only available in provinces who have horses as a resource, so they are medium rare.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Link can use his bow while riding Epona in some games.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • Mounted Bulblins only attack by shooting their bow. They ride their Bullbos in pairs: one takes the reins, and one does the shooting.
      • In the prelude to the final battle, Zelda shoots at Ganondorf with Light Arrows to paralyze him while on horseback with Link.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: In addition to Link being able to use bows on horseback (focusing on an enemy is recommended by the game, as it locks the viewpoint onto an enemy and makes it easier to aim), several fields and grassland areas contain groups of Bokoblins that spawn riding horses. While a few carry spears, the majority wield bows; on spotting Link, they attempt to encircle him while pelting him with arrows, using their constant movement to make themselves harder targets and keeping themselves at range to keep Link from using melee weapons.
  • Minecraft: Bow-wielding Skeletons have a chance to spawn mounted atop a Spider, or spawn four at once on horseback from horses that sometimes spawn from lightning strikes. Their high mobility while mounted can make them a hassle for the player to fight, and can shoot down the player easily if they flee. The player can also pull this off, as it's possible to fire a bow while on horseback while maintaining control over your horse.
  • Mount & Blade has the Khergit faction, almost every single one of their faction troops is one of these (with the exception of heavier lancers in the Warband expansion). It's also possible to make your player character one.
    • If you choose to start in the Khergit Khanate and you don't put any points into riding or horse archery and only use infantry in your battles... well, even the small packs of roaming steppe bandits that provide low level characters experience will stomp all over you. In fact, the steppes is probably the hardest starting region because of the prevalence of horse archers.
    • However, horse archers don't behave the way you'd expect them to in the game. Without a fan-made patch to correct it, they tend to rush at infantry as if they were regular cavalry units.
  • Shadow of the Colossus: Wander can do this while riding Agro. The fact that he can maintain stable aim while galloping, combined with his extremely awkward handling of the sword (which he admittedly stole), clues us in to who Wander was in his past life before coming to the Forbidden Land: not a warrior, but a hunter. This also feeds into the overall themes of the game, which shows the Colossi more as instinct-driven beasts than as strategic opponents, so the Wander doesn't battle them as much as hunting them down for their souls.
  • Shining Force and Shining Force II have Lyle and May, centaur archers who are one of the best ranged characters in their respective games.
  • TearRing Saga: The Horseman and Mamluke. The Mamluke can use swords upon promotion. Also, there is the Arrow Knight class, the promotion from the already Bow + Sword-using Lady Knight, that gains a horse upon promotion and the King's Knight class that uses swords, lances, axes and bows. Berwick Saga uses the horseman class instead.
  • Total War has them as a staple unit for most cavalry centered factions particularly in...
    • Shogun: Total War I and II, the former of which is the very first game in the series. An alternate-history campaign centered around a successful Mongol invasion of Japan ups the ante.
    • Medieval: Total War I and II finds them among most of the non-Catholic factions.
    • Rome: Total War I and II also have them as the core unit of several eastern/steppe factions and Rome itself in the Barbarian Invasion expansion.
    • Hyrule: Total War has archers or spellcasters mounted on fictional creatures like Loftwings and Bigoctos.
    • Total War: Attila: The Huns specialize in these, and the Sassanids and Alans also get their share. Eastern Rome also gets the Equites Sagitarii, though these are a poor cousin to the horsebowmen used by their enemies. Horse archers on the greater end of the spectrum of horse archers quality are devastating in open field battles with multiple units of them — their speed will allow them to outmaneuver enemy infantry and isolate the cavalry the enemy does have, this combined with their effectiveness in melee can easily counteract foot archers' ability to outnumber and outlast them at range and after those parts of the enemy's forces are are dealt with, their arrows will whittle down enemy infantry to be picked off for no other losses to their own side...and then their speed will probably mean no other enemies will escape the battlefield!
    • Total War: Warhammer: Several cavalry-heavy and/or skirmish-focused factions make use of horse archers, which provide them with ranged units capable of keeping up with other cavalry contingents and of independently pestering enemy forces while being fast enough to retreat at need without needing to commit other units to protecting them. These include Bretonnian yeoman archers, Wood Elf glade riders, High Elf Ellyrian reavers and Dark Elf dark riders (who use crossbows), as well as variants on more unusual mounts such as Goblin wolf rider archers. The Wood Elves have a unique variant in the form of hawk riders, which ride giant haws and add flight to the other advantages of horse archery.
    • Total War: Three Kingdoms: Horse archers a standard unit available to most factions, serving as Fragile Speedster skirmishers with lower range and armour penetration than the heavy foot crossbows used by most factions. Special versions are available to the northern factions of Gongsun San and Ma Teng, who can hire northern auxilliaries to their armies. Gongsun San specializes in medium horse archers who ride white steeds; they are decent in melee and can follow up their shooting with a devastating charge, while Ma Teng's Qing units are light horse who are immune to fatigue and can slowly whittle down opponents.
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: The Night Elves can promote their normal archers to Hippogryph riders, making them both mounted and flying.
  • The Wind Road: One of the stages, where hordes of bandit archers on horseback pursues you while you're seated behind a horde-drawn chariot in a furious chase across the Gobi Desert. The bandit archers will try shooting at you, and you shoot them back using your bow and the massive supply of arrows on the chariot.

    Web Video 
  • Lindybeige: Lindy's video Horse archers - the unbeatable troops? looks at why horse archers, while useful, were not some kind of game-breaking super unit as they are sometimes depicted to be in war games. For one thing, like all cavalry, they're rubbish at holding ground against an enemy attack or storming fortifications; that's something that only infantry can do well. As for counters, they're vulnerable to foot archers. Archers on foot can be packed together into denser formations than horsemen because horses require a lot of space, so their volume of fire can be greater. Horse archers also have a shorter accurate range than the foot archers because they're trying to aim while bouncing around on horseback, and the lightly or unarmored horses they're riding make them a bigger target than men on foot. They're great at harassing and wearing down the enemy, they can scout, they can attack groups of enemies on the march, but they're meant to be used as one part of a balanced army rather than dominating all areas of combat by themselves.
  • Mahu: Some of the armies of the Commonwealth Republic in "Crownless Eagle" make use of Eastern horse archers.

    Real Life 
  • Staple of steppe nomads who were Born in the Saddle:
    • The Mongols used horse archery to help them to take over most of Asia. About six out of every ten horsemen was a lightly equipped horse archer, and the remaining four were armored lancers. Usually the horse archers' role was to wear out and weaken up the enemy first so that they would fall before the lancers' decisive charge.
    • Even before the Mongols, horse nomads were a constant threat. The later Jin dynasty (better known as the Qing) was formed by a takeover by "semi-nomadic" note  horse archers. The earlier Xiongnu were able to extract tribute from the Chinese emperors of the early Han dynastynote  and force the construction of fortifications, including the Great Wall.
    • Parthian horse archers were devastating against the Romans at Carrhae (53 BCE) — particularly impressive in that they did so without stirrups. (Incidentally, it's often claimed that the phrase "parting shot" is a corruption of "Parthian shot". In truth, it's a coincidence and the two were coined separately.) They in turn learned it from the Scythians, who successfully prevented the armies of both Darius and Alexander the Great from expanding their empires into the Northern Ukraine and Russia through evasion and harassing. The Romans initially considered horse archers as an interesting but ultimately useless trick, as their testudo formation offered an excellent protection from arrows and even bows with enough power to pierce their shields had a limited supply of arrows. Then at Carrhae, the Parthians showed up with an immense reserve of arrows that allowed them to literally shoot all day, and the rest is history (the Romans were forced to advance, got surrounded, and most of the Romans were utterly crushed by the end of it all, not helped by the following Peace Conference descending to violence and leaving the Romans' surviving forces desperately trying to flee).
    • The Sasanid dynasty of Persia learned it from the Parthians, and included horse archers in the combined army that eventually overthrew the Parthians.
    • Medieval Hungarians. Hungarians originated as steppe nomads before they settled in the Pannonian Plain.
    • After Carrhae (see above), the Romans themselves adopted mounted archers and based their cavalry on a careful balance of them and cataphracts (shock cavalry armed with lance and sword and equipped with armour for both horse and soldier), a tradition that continued during the Byzantine Empire. In a change, after the initial period in which they were part of the auxilia (regiments that recruited from subjects and foreign peoples) the archer regiments were raised from settled populations who had not grown up with their bows. Instead of the classic steppe Hit-and-Run Tactics, they often used mounted bows as a replacement for pila, firing volleys into the enemy before charging down on them.
  • Japan doesn't have the vast plains usually associated with horse archers, but still developed this tradition:
    • The first recorded horse archers are the Emishi, a group of semi-nomadic tribes that lived in what is now Tohoku and the north-east of Honshu. They proved themselves the strongest enemies of the Yamato state, the predecessor of the Japanese empire, as the Yamato army, then based on masses of infantry conscripts as per imported Chinese models, couldn't pin them down to force a pitched battle and would instead be harassed from distance until the losses forced it to return home.
    • The second known group are the Fushu... That is, the Emishi tribes that had been bribed or otherwise convinced to submit to the Yamato. After one too many failures at subjugating the Emishi, the Yamato started deploying their loyal Fushu, equipped with better bows and armor developed with their superior technology, finally defeating their enemy.
    • Archery on horseback was originally THE signature practice of warfare for the samurai, directly descended by the Fushu. It started to fade from the battlefield in the second half of the Sengoku period, as spear- and firearm-wielding infantry became more important to Japanese warfare than missile cavalry.
    • One notable event in the history of Samurai horse archery is the Mongol invasions, during which the Mongols were consistently outclassed by the superior range and power of the Samurai and their longbows. Only their use of explosives could level the field, but both times the Mongols ended up forced back in the sea just in time for monsoon season.
    • Yabusame (流鏑馬) is the modern day Japanese traditional sport of mounted archery, directly developed from the samurai mounted archery and turned into a ceremonial skill.
  • The Medieval Hungarians absolutely loved this trope, and they went Min-Maxing on it. The cavalry of their armies consisted of both unarmoured, nimble and swift horse archers, whose function was to skirmish, outflank and envelope the enemy, and super-heavy armoured knights, whose function was to deliver the killing blow. This combination was found especially effective against the Ottoman Turks.
  • Many Indigenous American societies became excellent horse archers after the (re)introduction of horses to the continent by the Europeans.
    • The Lakota and Cheyenne Nations of the Northern Plains were particularly good skirmishers who had to contend against a variety of Invaders carrying guns.
    • The Comanche (or Nʉmʉnʉʉ, as they call themselves), one of the most powerful First Nations in the broader Great Plains/Great Basin region, managed to roll back the northward expansion of the Spanish Empire in the 17th/18th centuries and delay the westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century with the help of horse archery. Ironically, it was the Spanish who re-introduced horses to North America, as no native before then had seen a horse before. In 1630, no Indigenous cultures were riding horses, but by 1700, all of the Texas Plains nations, including the Comanche, had them, and the Comanche were the best warriors and horsemen of them all. In the 1830s and '40s, they were a serious threat to the Texans encroaching on their lands: They could shoot arrows from the saddle extremely rapidly and accurately, and the arrow points made of scrap iron would often clinch when they hit bone, making them dangerous to extract. The Texans were at a severe firepower disadvantage since each man had at most a single-shot musket and pair of pistols for a total of three shots, and they were totally outclassed in the quality of their horses as well as their skill in riding them. Texas Ranger Jack Hays developed tactics to counter the Comanches, but it wasn't until they got their hands on some five-shot Colt Paterson revolvers that they had an answer to Comanche archery.
  • Medieval Swedish and German mounted crossbowmen. Their fire rate was slower than that of the mounted archers, but they used far more powerful bows. Unconfirmed, but some evidence has been found that Spain also used them at some point.
  • The English had a fondness for what might be called "dragoon archers". They were mounted longbowmen who dismounted to use their longbows while the knights except for a small reserve dismounted beside them to form a backup. In a way it was an extension of classic Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian tactics with an addition of the longbow as a major feature as opposed to the oddball weapon it was to the Norse and Saxons.
  • Chariots were the predecessor of Horse Archers, in many countries (though among the Celts they were just an Awesome Personnel Carrier). They used similar tactics to horse archers and of course had both horses and archers though they didn't have archers mounted on horses for a long time. In a famous passage from a Sanskrit epic, Aryan charioteers actually wrote a love song for their bows.
  • For comparative reasons, we can mention the pistolier cavalry from European battlefields of 16th and 17th Centuries. They employed tactics somewhere in-between horse archers and on-foot musketeers and were arguably adaptation of a mounted force to gunpowder warfare.