By Corwyn MacCamie, EK Chamfron Herald-Emeritus


“Through the Heralds, spectators become participants.”

            One of the largest problems equestrians face in the SCA is connecting with the larger kingdom community. Their activities and practices seem arcane and aloof to the masses. This is where the Equestrian Herald comes in. He is the bridge between the equestrians and the rest of the populace, explaining the activities, problems and joys to the audience, changing them from spectators to participants. He makes the equestrians more accessible, and can go some way in changing the overall outlook for the better. 

            Why is this so necessary? Let’s look at a Tournament Herald at a heavy weapons list: He announces the contestants, gives the salutations perhaps, and gets out of the way. At the end, he announces the victor. This is easy because most spectators readily assume what the stick is for, and that the fighter on the ground just lost. With weighted point scales, and the different speeds the riders may go (which usually affects the score), some may be confused as to why someone won, or the point of the activity at all. Confusion leads to boredom, which leads to leaving.



            Each type of Herald has its own particular set of skills that enable them to do their job.  An Equestrian Herald combines many of these skills into a new type of herald. Though an Equestrian Herald is primarily a Voice Herald, he is also part Protocol Herald, part Court Herald, and part Book Herald. He must be all these things because of the unique roll he plays in an equestrian tournament.

            He is a Voice Herald to announce the riders and horses, and to run a tournament.

            He is a Protocol Herald to help determine the OP of riders in a processional, and how ‘challenges’ could/should be given and received.

            Crowns often show up to larger EQ tournaments. Knowledge of how crowns & courts work will help mesh the desires of the crown with the safety needs of the equestrians.

            An EqH needs to have at least a minimal understanding of Book Heraldry to help field questions about pageantry, ways to display coats of arms on horse and rider and the inevitable, “I need a coat of arms, can you help me?”

            After that, the herald needs to learn about the different games and tournaments that they are announcing. Not by any means do they need to become expert, but they should be familiar with what is happening, so they can better relay it to the audience. A basic knowledge of horses and equipment is helpful as well. This handout is designed to help give you that base to start from.

Kingdom Variants


            Each Kingdom practices their Equestrian program a bit differently, so it is important to talk to the marshals and riders to see how things are done in the kingdom you’re in. If your kingdom has a Footman’s Authorization, I STRONGLY recommend any prospective Equestrian Herald to receive such an authorization.     



                        That was THEN…


            The Heralds were, in period, under the aegis of the kingdom’s marshallate or Lord/Earl Marshal (and still are, in places likeEngland). Judges and arbiters, one of their main functions in their beginning was to run the tournaments, and declare the victors. This allowed them to codify how knights were recognized and keep track of who was who. The lord’s or king’s heralds ran the tournaments, with some lords and knights (who could afford to do so) employed their own.

                        This is NOW…

                        You are the Herald, not the Marshal. Focus on the crowd. Allow the Marshal to focus on safety issues, and let them take care of any problems. Try to dissuade any ‘helpful citizens’ that try to offer up their bodies to a half-ton of panicked equine.

                        If you happen to be in the field during a problem that’s nearing you, the best thing you can do is stand rock still. The horse will move around you if you stay still. If you move or block his path, he may move through you.

                        That being said, the marshal’s main focus is going to be on the horse and rider. The herald, with eyes already on the crowd, can help give an extra few seconds’ warning if, say, a child runs into the field to pet the pretty pony. Do not get in the marshal’s way, but be an extra set of eyes so they can do their job.




                        There are a few things that you’ll want to discuss with the MiC (Marshal in Charge) beforehand, some of which preferably before you discuss things with the riders:

            Tone – Is there an overall tone that they want to achieve?

            Gate – Where are the equestrians going to gather, and where are they coming in from? Knowing this, you can herd the crowd to the best spot to watch.

            Run-through – What’s going to happen? Are there alternative/uncommon point systems in play? Though the MiC will explain all of this to the riders, if you know it in advance, you can brief the crowd at the same time, if applicable.

            Speaking – Does the MiC want to address the crowd at all? How would he/she like to start/end?

            Signal – What signal would the MiC like to use to indicate a longer pause needs to be covered? And what signal is used for, “We’re ready herald, you can shut up now!”

            VIP – Are TRM/TRH attending? Are there gentles being championed? Is there a “box” or area for them?


            As has been stated, an Equestrian Herald is primarily a Voice Herald though of a different stripe than is normally shown in the SCA. This is because due to the inevitable lulls between riders, and the need to connect to audience (and to keep their attention) the EqH must also allow a good leavening of the ‘color commentator’ to creep into their announcements.

            They must be knowledgeable about EQ practices and traditions. Though by no means does the herald need to be an expert in such matters, he/she does need to have a basic idea and who to ask for an answer if needed.

            Mainly, this is a show, and you are the emcee. Talk to the marshal in charge as to the flavor they want to project (European, Mongol, Arabic, Serious, Comedic, etc.) and add as much passion as you can into it. In no other venue do the heralds have as much freedom to enliven the proceedings, because we are primarily entertainers in this instance. The information is necessary and important, but if no one is there to hear it, what is the point?

Annunciation is paramount. Do not rush your words or they will get lost. Avoid diphthongs and slightly exaggerate everything you say. Project, don’t shout. Be aware that there will be a lot of noise around you and you will need to fight sometimes, to rein back the attention of the crowd.

‘Adlib’ and ‘prepared adlib’

      Because of the unpredictable nature of tournaments, it is inevitable that there will be lulls, flubs, and possibly shocks. During any of these times you should have something to say. Keep the audience interested. Also, many riders may have little or no idea how they want to be presented, and you may have to make up presentations on the fly. There is no way to predict how things are going to go ‘off program’ but if you equate a horse to a 6 year old that weighs 1,500 lbs, you’ll see what I mean. The quiet lulls are one of the fastest ways to lose an audience, and a well-chosen remark can keep them there and interested. If you can improvise well, this talent will stand you in good stead.

      If you cannot, don’t worry overmuch about it. Instead, try to think of what to say in advance, and write it down. Have some beginnings of introductions written down, in different styles. After all, you’ll most likely have some papers in front of you anyway while announcing, so what are a few more? Come up with lines are things to say during a lull. Blatantly steal from other heralds, plagiarism is period. 

Tournament vs. Rider Herald


      Not meaning to create more titles, I merely use the following to delineate the jobs and functions of herald in a tournament.

      Tournament herald(s) are the main herald, announcing the rolls and interacting with the audience, but is largely seen to be unbiased. This can be split between two or more heralds depending on the circumstance. Heraldic tabards should be kingdom, local, kingdom or society EQ badge or the ubiquitous herald tabard, to show equanimity.

      A Rider’s Herald is a herald attached to a rider or riders, announcing them, urging the crowd to applause for their rider, and is completely biased. Think ‘A Knight’s Tale’. If possible, the herald’s tabard should be the colors or arms of the rider they represent. Heralds should encourage equestrians to make a tabard for their herald to wear, especially for championship tournaments or an emprise. Usually found only at larger tournaments.



The Riders

Some riders will have very specific ideas on how they want to be announced. Some will have not the first idea on what they want. Get as much information as you can. If you don’t use it during the introduction, you can use it during a lull, if necessary. I have made a Fact Sheet for you at the end, feel free to use it, or make your own.

How you introduce them can be (and perhaps, should be) influenced by the type of tournament. If it is a 14th century French emprise, then you can conform entries into a more specific style. For a kingdom championship on the other hand, may want to focus on the differences of the riders, tailoring an introduction to the rider. Talk to the marshal in charge on his/her thoughts, and of course the riders on theirs. The more information you have at your disposal, the easier your job gets. Some basic information that you should gather is:

            Rider: Fairly obvious, but how they want to be announced may not be the same name (or may be some variant) that they normally go by.

            Persona Ethnicity: Not only is this an easy addition, but can help build an intro style.

            Riding For: If the equestrian is riding as a champion on behalf of a person or group, then that should be mentioned in the first 1-2 sentences. This also can affect the intro, as the persona of the person being championed may be honored by tailoring the style to them.

            Arms: For high-pageantry, you (or they) may even want to announce the rider’s coat of arms. Find a book herald to blazon it for you if you need and time and circumstances permit.

            Awards: These can be the awards given by the society, kingdom, or group. They can also be championships or tournaments won, prizes awarded, or holding an office like KEO or SEO. Tailor this to the situation. For example, an equestrian riding on behalf of the barony should have the baronial awards mentioned first, then the others.

            Entry Level: At what level have the entered the tournament at. This may seem like not the thing to add, but a rider having to ‘walk’ the course is forgiven much by the crowd if they know that this is a beginner before them, and will be more generous in their applause.

Trivia/Filler: This is all the little things that don’t fit the above categories but still can add to the drama of the event. Rider’s first event? How many years riding? How many years in the SCA? Married/Single? Favorite color?

You get the idea. You should get more information than you can use, so you can pick and choose your information to fit the situation. The more information you give the audience, the more they will readily connect to the riders, and the more they will enjoy themselves in turn.

The Horses

      Horses, by and large, don’t care how they are announced, or if they are, at all. And if they do, they probably won’t complain to you about it. The audience on the other hand, does care. A LOT. Sometimes even more so than about the riders. This is especially true if there are equestrians in the audience. Most equestrians are happy to talk about their horses, so if you get a question you can’t handle, tell them you can see if you can introduce them to the rider & horse after the tournament. Some basic information to get about the horse (also on the FACT SHEET on the last page):

                        Horse: The name of the horse. Many times the horse will have an “SCA Name”, just like people do, to more conform to SCA or persona naming styles. Or may have one just for that tournament. Find out what name the rider wants the horse to be known as.

                        Breed/Age: Self-explanatory. Again, about the horse, not the rider. (Then again…but on your own head be it.)

                        Height: Preferably in hands and in height.

                        Awards: Probably not kingdom awards (though you never know), this can include championships and tournaments won, prizes awarded, etc.  

Trivia/Filler: As with a rider, this is can be number of years in the SCA or tournaments in general. It can also be color, special tricks or training. Is it someone else’s horse? What does the rider like best about their horse? Does the horse count? Does he sell cigarettes to inner-city school children? (Yes, Pig* from Aethelmearc).

F-meter: The “Flowery-o-meter”. A handy 1-10 scale to remind yourself how flowery/grandiose the rider wants you to get. This of course is a sliding base-scale, influenced by the overall tone of the tournament. It can be very handy to a rider to ask him/her the “1-10 question” if they’re having trouble thinking of how they want to be announced.

* - Yes, the horse’s name really is Pig.

      Processionals & Protocol

            If there is a processional of the riders, they should line up in the following manner: Royals (if multiple royals, first by royal whose kingdom you’re in, then my order of founding; Royal Champions; Local Champion (if held in a locale that has a champion); SEO; KEO; any other kingdom champions; any visiting KEOs; any local champions (same OP as Royals); normal order of precedence.



            Birjas – A challenge set with a T-shaped stand on which either end is mounted with a large ring. The object is to pass a lance, spear or javelin through the ring and catch it on the other side without the spear touching the ring. Larger poles (such as spears and lances) are done in a two-handed style, while javelins are attempted one-handed.

            Challenge Course – A tournament where the horse & rider must pass through a series of challenges demonstrating skill of the rider and training of the horse.

            Crested Combat - A challenge of mounted combat for a rider to knock off the ‘crest’ of their opponent’s helm. In the SCA, the crest is usually a stuffed animal attached to the top of the helm by Velcro, using boffers.

            Heads – Also known as Saracen Heads, the object is to knock or chop the ‘head’ off of a pole with a sword. This can be a fake head, piece of Styrofoam or a head of cabbage, which determines the type of sword used (blunt or sharp).

            Heavy Combat – Not in practice in all kingdoms, this is a combat form using SCA Heavy Weapons rules (i.e. rattan and armor).

            Mounted Archery – What it sounds like, though the horse is typically moving while you shoot.


           Quintain – Originally a training tool for using a lance, the quintain had two purposes: A) teaching the proper strike, by hitting the shield, which moved the arm, and B) proper speed for a charge, as the weight at the other end of the arm would swing around to strike the rider if he was too slow. In the SCA tournaments, the arm is shortened to not strike the rider, and it is typical to count points for every revolution. With only a little encouragement, heralds can get the crowd to count the revolutions.

            Quintain, Double – A quintain with a shield on either end of the arms, designed so that the first shield correctly struck drops the other arm, preventing the opponent from scoring. Considered a safer alternative to lance combat. Also known as Speed Quintain.

            Reeds – Thin rods perched on poles of varying heights. The object being to knock the reed down with the sword. Though in period they were more apt to use steel swords, to chop reeds sticking out of the ground. In the SCA a wooden or boffer sword is commonly used.

            Rescue the Maiden/Soldier – A challenge in where the rider must ‘rescue’ a life-sized dummy to a specific location. There are a number of variants that determine how the dummy can be moved, and if the rider must stay on or dismount.

            Rings – Or more properly Ring Tilting. Training tools to promote accuracy with the lance, rings of various sizes are suspended from a T-shaped device. The rider gets points for piercing the ring with the lance. The smaller the ring, the more points awarded, though sometimes the size of the required ring is dictated by the level of skill the rider declares when entering the contest.

            Rods – A form of Birjas (see above), where a short rod is used instead.

            Spear – This can mean any number of games in two broad variants. In Thrown or Throwing Spear, the aim is to cast a spear into a target at pace (either vertical or some degree thereof) and make it stick. The other main variant (known in the East as “pig-sticking”) is to stab a ground target(s), while retaining the spear at pace.

            Tilting – Also known as jousting (see Terminology), this combat form is the iconic image of the Middle Ages Equestrian. Not in practice in all kingdoms.




Bard, barding – Equine Armor.

Emprise (ahm-PREE) – An equestrian tournament with a greater emphasis on pageantry and heraldry.

EO (EE-oh) – Equestrian Officer. See also KEO & SEO.

Eo -Fyrd, -Hyrd (AY-oh) – Armigerous equestrian orders of Calontir, AoA & GoA respectively. ‘Eoh’ is the Old English term for ‘horse’ or ‘warhorse’.

Footman – Helpers inside the arena to aid the marshal and riders if necessary, and to help reset the course after a pass.

Hand – Measurement for the height horses. 1 hand (hh) = 4”.

IKEqC (eye-KEK) – The Inter-kingdom Equestrian Competition.

Joust – A tournament or combat on horseback. Used more commonly to denote a pass of lances, or tilting.

KEO – Kingdom Equestrian Officer, deputy to the Earl Marshal.

SEO – Society Equestrian Officer, deputy to the Society Marshal.

Tilt(-ing) – A combat or game involving lances striking a target.

Torse – A wreath or headroll of twisted fabrics of two alternating tinctures, usually a metal and a color, worn on a helmet. Most often shown with tails of alternating colors emerging from the back side.

Withers – Part of the horse above the shoulders, usually below the pommel of the saddle. Highest part of the horse’s body (not neck or head). Often heard as a height measurement for the horse: “The mare was five feet at the withers.”




Some have current practices and rules, some only have contact information.

Society EQ Site




An Tir


Atenveldt: No website with pertinent information found.






Gleann Abhann: no webpage. Email:









This is my fact sheet mentioned above. A printable pdf version of it can be downloaded here. Just right-click and choose "Save Target As..."

FACT SHEET                                                                                                          F-meter:

Rider: _______________________________________________________________________

Persona Ethnicity:

Riding For:



Entry Level:


Horse: _______________________________________________________________________