Originally posted by Durandal:
In Europe horse archers are almost always hmm maybe even always dismounted during battles, they are not real Horse archers.
The Horse Archers were used for the purposes most horse archers were used for, harassment and recon.
The early part of the campaign used the horse archers to raid villages and set fire to buildings.
Before Crecy a contingent of mounted archers saved the English Army by securing a river crossing that was being defended by the French.
They stormed across the river on their horses firing from the saddle. This and other small actions the archers fought mounted.
When it came to a full pitched battle the archers dismounted and fought on foot. The reason for this is concentration of fire.
Horse archers are best used against infantry without a strong support of archers. They can ride up until they are quite close to the infantry fire and then retreat. The infantry cannot catch them and even if they are attacked by cavalry they are faster than anything but the lightest (who are then vulnerable to attack from supporting heavy cavalry)
Foot archers on the other hand need infantry support to protect them from cavalry or infantry who would otherwise catch and kill them as they are relatively lightly armed and armoured.
However horse archers are less than brilliant against foot archers. The reason is three fold:
1. Density - because of the size of the horse and the requirement that they must be able to freely move they cannot cluster as densely as foot archers, for every horse archer you are looking at 10 foot mounted archer, as a result the foot archers will put out a far greater volume of fire.
2. Distance - Though you can train to pull a bow on a horse you can fire from a far greater distance and fire much more quickly when standing on the ground.
3. Vulnerable horse - The horses are impossible to armour as well as a person, a horse archer is in a way more vulnerable than charging knight in this respect as they expose the horse's entire flanks as they turn away.
The English army at Crecy was facing several thousand cavalry and several thousand crossbow men. For these reasons the mounted archers fought on foot in that and all the major battles, not because they didn't know how to fire their bow when riding.