Seeing A Man About A Horse

25 April 2016

A bow, an arrow and a horse. We look at the life of Din Mahidin, founder of Traditional Horseback Archery in Malaysia and Southeast Asia's leading horseback archer and medalist.

It’s 6am. Din is out at the ranch, preparing to shower his horses before he heads for practice. Now a sport he practices religiously, Din has always known that archery was in his blood. The horse is just an accidental addition.

In 1996, he was invited to be an observer in the World Horseback Archery Championship in Sokcho, South Korea. The World Horseback Archery Federation in South Korea holds annual global competitions for this ever-growing team of horseback archers that seek to preserve their cultures and histories through this sport.

What started out as a challenge between friends to shoot an arrow from a horse quickly became Din’s lifelong passion. “My friends just challenged my jokingly. Before I went to South Korea, I never thought I’d come back a horseback archer.”

“Traditional archery teaches you a valuable lesson. You try your best to aim, but wherever the arrow lands, that is where God wants it to be. You’ve got to accept that. You do your best in everything but accept the outcomes that are presented to you—that is the philosophy of traditional archery.”

“Archery can be taken as a sport, but it is more a spiritual practice, you know? For me, it is more of a way to train my ego than it is a sport.”

“To me, horseback archery represents the honing of mind, body and spirit at its best. The body will have to balance on the horse and shoot, the mind will have to concentrate, and the spirit will have to let go.”

“When I go for competitions, we have to choose from the horses provided, and we are given time to accustom ourselves to them.”


“To get used to the horses, it’s something you just have to know. To be a good archer, you have to shoot from any bow that has the same poundage that you’re used to. So, the same goes for horses. The only thing you go against is yourself.”

“I’m in the evening of my life. I’m 54. So, I hope to train the right kind of teachers to teach the younger generation in traditional archery.”

Photos by Ahmad Saiful Ahmad Fadzil
Text by Lillian Wee


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