Calm and quiet with a deep inner strength. Those words are the best to describe the look Lisa Badger has when nocking arrows on horseback or working on her dressage elements for working equitation. This Amazon-like warrior goddess doesn’t hail from some exotic locale: she was born right here in Clark County and grew up in Ridgefield. In fact, except for a short time in college and in the Columbia River Gorge, she has spent her entire life here. So how did she become so epically cool? A love of horses led her to making her living through mounted archery and leatherwork.
Like many young girls, Lisa was horse-crazy. “My dad gave me my first horse when I was 8-years-old after years of my pleading!” she shares. “I think the decision was easier for him when he realized my horse would double as his elk hunting horse.”
Since her first horse, Lisa has participated in many equine sports – as many as she could it would seem. While some may feel this shows a lack focus, for Lisa it’s an intentional way of training. “It has always been very important to me that my individual horses (and myself) be skilled in multiple events and have an all-around training,” she explains.
Many human athletes cross-train, citing benefits of using different muscles and/or building the muscles they primarily use in a safer way that puts less stress on their body (an example would be a runner who uses swimming to build muscle and endurance, as it’s lower impact). Workplaces also use cross training, citing it helps prevent burnout of their workers by changing up their routine. Lisa believes these same benefits can be achieved by cross training horses. “I also like to have those disciplines complement each other,” she adds. “For instance, if one discipline is an indoor sport the complementary one should be primarily outdoors. If one is technically more advanced, the other should be less so, and freer flowing. For instance, dressage and endurance, or pleasure and mountain trail. This is a training philosophy for me. The combination of horse archery and working equitation are a good example of this philosophy. I think we specialize as horsemen way too much and it doesn’t always benefit the horses.”
Lisa follows this philosophy with all her horses, including her current ones: Columbia, a Lipizzaner mare; Ronin a Lipizzaner gelding; Tuffy, a Quarter Horse gelding; and Tommy, a Quarter Horse gelding.
The Beginning of Prairie Moon Mounted Archers
Lisa played around with mounted archery on her own horses before she learned it was an actual sport with competitions. Then she saw videos of local horse archers on YouTube. “I was entirely enchanted and got in touch with them right away,” Lisa shares. “I had the opportunity to clinic with one of the best international archers in the world, and actually entered my first international competition in 2014.”
Since then, Lisa has been knee-deep in all things mounted archery, which she says fits her personality quite well. “Horse archery is a very physical sport,” she says, “but it is also an ancient martial art with a worldwide history with lots of cultural ethnic expressions. I am a history, culture and ancient warfare geek. Horse archery fits right in my wheelhouse.” And anyone who has watched her nock an arrow, or even just seen a photo of her, would emphatically agree. She just looks like she should be doing this sport.
That warrior spirit of hers is allowed to fly free in mounted archery, another reason Lisa loves it so much:
“It also appeals to the inner warrior, allowing me to express a human characteristic that in our modern day is only acceptable in certain places. I believe it is normal human nature to express aggression, and there is an appropriate time and place. These days it is acceptable to express aggression or violence in modern sports like football, boxing, wrestling and such. If you are a horseman, you must look toward the ancient martial arts to find the same outlet. Equestrian combat sports are becoming more well known in America: Horseback archery is leading the way.”
Prairie Moon Mounted Archers was started in 2019 as a place for those who want to train and compete year-round. Lisa will also be organizing competitions of their own here in Southwest Washington. In addition to Prairie Moon Mounted Archers, Lisa and her husband Darrell also run Heart Horse Industries, LLC. Through this company, they offer archery clinics and instruction. Her beginning archery clinics are a great way to learn about the sport.
If that wasn’t enough, Lisa is also an accomplished leatherworker, creating unique pieces including tack, purses, bags, archery quivers and more. Lisa also can repair leather items. She has over two decades of experience in leathercrafting, and it shows in her work. Though it may surprise you, Lisa said there are lots of talented women in this craft and it does not cause difficulty when getting a job. What is the hardest part then? For her, it’s looking at her own work. “I think every artist looks at their own work in the end and only see what they could have done better,” she explains. Even when everyone else thinks it’s perfect. But I always so appreciate the many people who appreciate craftsmanship, and are willing to pay a good price for handmade, quality items.”
Her favorite things to make are her fantasy war bridle sets, which are truly works of art and accent any horse’s beauty. “They come straight out of my imagination and would look great on any horse in ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings,’” she says. “These are items you can’t pick up at the farm store and I love to share them.”
Ready to become a warrior yourself? Here are some FAQs from Lisa about getting into mounted archery:
How well trained should my horse be? If you are a beginner, you want a very well broke horse with an exceptional temperament: uncomplicated, predictable, agreeable and not reactive.
Do I need to have shot something before? It is recommended that an archer have a grasp of all the horse archery ground basics before shooting from a horse. A new horse archer should learn horse archery on an experienced archery horse when it is possible.
What equipment do I need? A traditional recurve horse bow is the bow used by horse archers. It is a basic stick and string – no sites, no shelves, no gadgets. Arrows that are suited to your bow and you, as well as quivers – there are a lot of styles of quivers. There are also a lot of different accessories on the market (at a clinic, Lisa can help you with these specifics!)
What does it cost? You can buy a good starter kit with bow, arrows and quiver under $500 pretty easily. But quality gear can be quite expensive. People usually start cheap and add on as they learn what works best for them. A horse archery competitor has similar bills to pay at an event to that of an average horse show athlete. But there are playdays that can be very cheap. I have hosted one-day playdays with awards for a $50 entry. Recognized contests can be $400 or more just for your entry, but usually include some meals and sometimes lodging for you and your horse.
How do I sign up for practice? Most clubs have regular practices for their members that are closed. But sometimes you can visit a practice to see what it is all about. People who are interested in getting into the sport are best advised to get into a clinic for beginners. Heart Horse Industries offers clinics and lessons throughout the year for beginners.