University of Vermont AAHS

The Quick Release Knot

by Jan Dawson  

We are not all thinking of the same thing when we speak of a "quick release" knot. What we hope will happen with these knots is that when a horse that is tied with a so-called "quick release" knot gets into trouble that we will be able to grab the tail of the lead rope and give it a jerk that will immediately free the horse. Unfortunately, in many cases that is not true. Many of the knots frequently used in stables and camps across the country will tighten up when a frightened horse sits back to the extent that it is necessary to cut the lead to free the horse.

Although some such knots can be prevented from tightening too much by simply wrapping the rope two times around the post, the "daisy-chain" variety of knot pictured on this page is a better choice. This knot will not tighten to the point that it cannot be jerked free, no matter how hard the pull goes in the other direction. It also seems to have less of a tendency to grab fingers in the process of tying.

The "daisy-chain" knot can be identified from a distance making it is easy to see if it is being tied correctly. This knot also has the advantage of being able to be tied with almost no time spent with the fingers in precarious positions. Extreme care must be used when allowing students to tie their own horses in order to make sure they are doing so correctly. It's always wise to supervise this part of a lesson as closely as the rest to make sure that instructions are followed exactly rather than finding out too late that a horse could not be freed or someone received an injury.

[Reprinted from Summer 1997 Caution: Horses.]

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