Introduction: Quick-Release Knot (Equestrian)

A quick-release knot can be used as a mooring or to secure any load that can be untied quickly and efficiently. It is however, primarily used to secure a horse to a rail, branch, etc. Equestrians use this knot as opposed to others in situations where the horse may be spooked (scared) or react in a sudden, potentially dangerous way. Because horses are prey animals, they rely primarily on their size and swiftness to get away from predators. A tied-up horse is a vulnerable horse and a vulnerable horse is insecure. Due to his instincts, horses may unintentionally injure the person/person’s interacting with him trying to defend or flee from whatever has alarmed him. To keep the animal and human safe, we use a quick-release knot. If a situation occurs where the horse gets scared, it is easy to quickly pull the working end of the lead rope and untie the knot to give the horse space to calm down or investigate whatever has spooked them. This gives the person handling the horse time to move out of the way and avoid potentially serious injuries. The quick release knot has endless variations to it and each horseman has his/her own. I will be showing the one that I feel is the easiest and can be used for more than just horse work.


One lead rope (or twine, shoelace, etc.)

A rail or anything to tie the knot to

Step 1:

Take the working end (end not attached to horse) and make one loop around the rail.

Make sure to pull the slack connected to the horse so that he does not have enough room to get tangled up in the rope.

Step 2:

Wrap the working end around the rail again, making a second loop.

Again, check the slack and adjust if necessary.

Step 3:

Take the working end in your hand and make a medium-sized loop.

Step 4:

Next, take your medium-sized loop and cross it over the ones on the rail, while lifting them up.

Step 5:

Guide your medium-sized loop under the ones on the rail.

Step 6:

Now is the time to make sure that the knot is still tight so that it doesn’t fall apart, and you have enough rope to complete the next step.

I like to take the loop at the top and the end of the rope that is tied to the horse and pull both ends. Make sure you are pulling the end that is attached to the horse rather than the working end. Otherwise, your knot will come undone.

Step 7:

Once again, take the working end of your rope and make another medium-sized loop.

Step 8:

Lastly, tighten your knot again to ensure it will not come undone.

Step 9:

*Depending on the length of the rope, the working end could still be long and get in the way of the horse’s feet. If this is the case, simply repeat step seven by making a “daisy chain”.

Step 10:

When you are finished, if ever you need to untie it quickly, simply pull on the working end of your rope and the knot will come undone.