IS­LAND LIFE

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - UPFRONT - WORDS PENNY MCLEOD PHO­TOG­RA­PHY PATRICK GEE

“You do feel a bit like a war­rior up there,” says horse­back archer Sarah Leib­brandt of the ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of fir­ing ar­rows at a tar­get while rid­ing her horse.

“We of­ten re­fer to each other as war­riors in the horse archery com­mu­nity. It’s a way of lift­ing each other up and en­cour­ag­ing each other ... His­tor­i­cally, it’s a mil­i­tary com­bat dis­ci­pline that has be­come a recre­ational sport. It is em­pow­er­ing.”

Leib­brandt, shown here on her horse Lurch at a re­cent horse archery clinic at New Nor­folk, is a found­ing mem­ber of the state’s first horse archery club, Epona’s Horse Archers, which was es­tab­lished in March this year and has 25 mem­bers.

She says the sport is “grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially” world­wide and the club’s goal is to be­come in­volved in in­ter­state and in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

“It’s ad­dic­tive. It’s a thrilling sport that re­quires in­tense fo­cus,” she says. “There is a lot of adren­a­line in­volved, and at the same time you have to fo­cus on your shot and the tech­nique.”

A rid­ers’ re­la­tion­ship with their horse is in­te­gral to the sport.

“It’s about the trust you have with your horse. If you can get the [archery] ac­tion go­ing, you know you have done the ground work with your horse,” says Leib­brandt, who took up horse­back archery for the first time eight months ago.

“You can just steer them with your feet and legs, and be con­fi­dent they will stop at the end ... Lurch is a big, de­pend­able and sen­si­ble horse so it didn’t take him long to get used to it.”

Visit the Horse Archery Tas­ma­nia face­book page for in­for­ma­tion on their ral­lies, held on the sec­ond Sun­day of each month at Kens­ing­ton Park in New Nor­folk.

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