Friday, December 28, 2012

A Duck Walking Horse

As member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) I have the  persona of an Icelandic woman from the 1100s, I am designing a coat of arm for that persona.  No matter that the Vikings pre-dated heraldry, the SCA insists that rules of heraldry must be followed.
Gloppen civic coat of arms

So I want to use a tolting Icelandic horse on my coat of arms.  In English heraldry, the horse can only be shown as courant or galloping, forcéne or rearing, pascuant or grazing, passant or walking, statant or standing still. These positions do not include tolt or passgjenger (Norwegian term for tolting or pacing).  However, tolting horses are frequently depicted in Icelandic and Norse art, tapestries, church carvings, etc. of 800 to 1200 AD.

Appleton Coat of Arms showing a horse
"en guardent" which is a rare exception

I did find this wonderfully designed civic coat of arms from the Norwegian municipality of Gloppen. It features a Fjord horse performing some sort of lateral gait--but not a tolt.   The heraldic description of this coat of arms is "Motivet synar ein gangande hest i sølv på blå botn og heidrar fjordhesten" which roughly translates as "Design synar a duck walking horse in silver on a blue background and honors fjord horse." Which brings up the question what is "a duck-walking horse?"  And is "gangande" an acceptable heraldic attitude for a horse?  Does anybody know of a coat of arms that uses a "tolting" or ambing horse and pre-dates 1650?  If so, please let me know via the comments section.

Horsens Coat of Arms
Here is another  coat of arms for the Horsen family from what looks like an inn or restaurant.  This horse is also tolting.  I need to track this coat of arms down in a pre-1600s roll of arms , sigh.  Some of the SCA rules can be very strict.

Blazon of Helfenstein family

Interestingly, in heraldry other animals are shown as "gangande" or pacing.  For example, llamas, camels, and elephants perform a kind of pace, which is accurately shown in some period coat of arms. 

And check out the web page for the municipality of Gloppen.  Gloppen is located on the shores of a southwestern fjord.  It looks like a fantastic place for a vacation with forests, meadows, mountain lakes, fjords, small farms, and riding tours on Fjord horses.

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