A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a bow, able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for hunting, for protecting the herds, and for war. It was a defining characteristic of the Eurasian nomads during antiquity and the medieval period, as well as the Iranian peoples, (Alans, Scythians, Sarmatians, Parthians, Sassanid Persians) and Indians in antiquity, and by the Hungarians, Mongols and the Turkic peoples during the Middle Ages. By the expansion of these peoples, the practice also spread to Eastern Europe (via the Sarmatians and the Huns), Mesopotamia, and East Asia. In East Asia, horse archery came to be particularly honored in the samurai tradition of Japan, where horse archery is called Yabusame.
The term mounted archer occurs in medieval English sources to describe a soldier who rode to battle but who dismounted to shoot. 'Horse archer' is the term used more specifically to describe a warrior who shoots from the saddle at the gallop. Another term, 'horseback archery', has crept into modern use.