Fiador knot

Last updated
Fiador knot
NamesFiador knot, Ole fiador knot, Theodore knot, Hackamore diamond knot
Category Loop
Related Bottle sling, Diamond knot
Typical userope halters, hackamores, and hobbles
ABoK #1110, #2569

The fiador knot (also Theodore knot) is a decorative, symmetrical knot used in equine applications to create items such as rope halters, hobbles, and components of the fiador on some hackamore designs. As traditionally described, it is a four strand diamond knot in which six of the eight ends loop back into the knot, thus allowing it to be tied with a single line. [1] While a specific knot is discussed in this article, the fiador knot has also been treated as an entire class of multi-strand knots similarly made with a single line. [2] [3]



The origin of the variant name "Theodore knot", used in the United States, is a corruption of the Spanish fiador. American cowboys likewise corrupted a number of other closely related terms, substituting "hackamore" for jaquima and "McCarty" for mecate . [4]

Knotting authority Clifford Ashley relates Philip Ashton Rollins's suggestion that, "When Theodore Roosevelt, 'the hero of San Juan Hill,' visited the Southwest, shortly after the Spanish–American War, it was a foregone conclusion that the Spanish name 'Fiador' would be corrupted to 'Theodore' in his honor." [1]


Considered a difficult knot to tie, cowboys were said to have been able to collect a fee for tying it. [5] Ashley went so far as to include it in a chapter covering trick knots in The Ashley Book of Knots stating archly, "the trick is to succeed in tying it." [6]

Many methods have been devised to tie the fiador knot, [7] including fixtures used to hold the parts in shape while tying. [4] [8] More recent sources have shown a simpler method of forming the fiador knot using a flat precursor knot. [9] [10] [11]

The following images show a method for tying the fiador knot:

Tight face and loose face

Careful inspection reveals the two faces of the completed fiador knot, where the four strands emerge, are not identical. One has the appearance of a crown knot surrounding the emerging strands and is somewhat resistant to spreading when they are pulled apart. By comparison, the strands emerging from the other face of the knot are not nearly as well-contained and if pulled apart, the fiador knot easily distorts and splays. Depending on how the fiador knot is tied, these distinct faces can be positioned differently with respect to the side of the knot with the two loops and the side with a single loop and the two free ends.

While most sources fail to discuss and differentiate the two faces, those that do suggest the tight face is best oriented towards single loop and two free ends if the knot is to be used in a rope fiador. [10] [12] The rationale stated is that the single loop and free end side of the knot will be subject to more spreading when it passed around the neck of the horse. By contrast, the strands on the two-loop side of the fiador knot will generally be kept together by the double hackamore knot immediately below it. [13] [14]

Regardless of the original tying method, the orientation of the tight and loose faces can be swapped in the completed knot. [11] By loosening the fiador knot, the tight face can be pressed towards, over, and around the rest of the knot. The knot will invert, "much the same as a mitten is turned inside out." [15] When retightened, the tight and loose faces will have been exchanged.

Uses by equestrians

A mockup of the three knots used on a hackamore's fiador with the fiador knot in the center. Fiador-mockup-with-Becket hitch-Fiador knot-and-Bottle sling.jpg
A mockup of the three knots used on a hackamore's fiador with the fiador knot in the center.

There are several ways the fiador knot is used with certain types of horse tack:

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 Ashley, Clifford W. (1944), The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, pp. 43 & 201
  2. Schaake, A.G.; Turner, J.C.; Sedgwick, D.A. (1990), Braiding - Regular Fiador Knots, A Series of Books on Braiding, 2/1, Hamilton, NZ: University of Waikato, ISBN   0-908830-02-5
  3. 1 2 Hall, Tom (July 1996). "Fiador Knots". Knotting Matters. London: International Guild of Knot Tyers (53): 13–24. ISSN   0959-2881.
  4. 1 2 Grant, Bruce (2004) [1972], Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding, Atglen, Pennsylvania: Cornell Maritime Press, pp. 144–149
  5. Day, Cyrus L. (1967), Quipus and Witches' Knots, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, p. 90
  6. Ashley, p. 413
  7. Ulrich, Eugene (1986), The Hackamore Diamond Knot: Four Methods of Tying - Plus the Knot in a Bottle, Faith, SD: Owl Printers
  8. Antonio Marin's youtube account that shows at least 5 methods of tying the fiador knot (in spanish, 2 colors in the ropes)
  9. Ulrich(1986), p. 32
  10. 1 2 Longanecker, Diane (2009), Halter-tying Success (2nd ed.), Dayton, Washington: Horse Owner Success Books, pp. 60–75, ISBN   978-0-9635320-7-7
  11. 1 2 Budworth, Geoffrey (December 2005). "The Fiador Knot". Knotting Matters. London: International Guild of Knot Tyers (89): 34–36. ISSN   0959-2881.
  12. All photos on this page show the completed knot in this configuration.
  13. Ulrich(1986), pp. 3–4
  14. Schaake, et al.(1990), pp. 8 & 15
  15. Ulrich(1986), p. 25
  16. Grant, Bruce and Rice, Lee. How to Make Cowboy Horse Gear Cornell Maritime Press; 2nd edition (June 1956), ISBN   0-87033-034-9, ISBN   978-0-87033-034-6

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A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray.

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A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit.

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<i>The Ashley Book of Knots</i> 1944 encyclopedia of knots by Clifford W. Ashley

The Ashley Book of Knots is an encyclopedia of knots written and illustrated by the American artist Clifford W. Ashley. First published in 1944, it was the culmination of over 11 years of work. The book contains 3,854 numbered entries and approximately 7,000 illustrations. The entries include knot instructions, uses, and some histories, categorized by type or function. It remains one of the most important and comprehensive books on knots.


A hackamore is a type of animal headgear which does not have a bit. Instead, it has a special type of noseband that works on pressure points on the face, nose, and chin. It is most commonly associated with certain styles of riding horses.

Halter hitch

The halter hitch is a type of knot used to connect a rope to an object. As the name implies, an animal's lead rope, attached to its halter, may be tied to a post or hitching rail with this knot. The benefit of the halter hitch is that it can be easily released by pulling on one end of the rope, even if it is under tension. Some sources show the knot being finished with the free end running through the slipped loop to prevent it from working loose or being untied by a clever animal, still allowing easy but not instant untying.

Bottle sling

The bottle sling is a knot which can be used to create a handle for a glass or ceramic container with a slippery narrow neck, as long as the neck widens slightly near the top.

Eye splice

The eye splice is a method of creating a permanent loop in the end of a rope by means of rope splicing.


A bosal is a type of noseband used on the classic hackamore of the vaquero tradition. It is usually made of braided rawhide and is fitted to the horse in a manner that allows it to rest quietly until the rider uses the reins to give a signal. It acts upon the horse's nose and jaw. Though seen in both the "Texas" and the "California" cowboy traditions, it is most closely associated with the "California" style of western riding. Sometimes the term bosal is used to describe the entire classic hackamore or jaquima. Technically, however, the term refers only to the noseband portion of the equipment.

Bitless bridle Type of horse equipment that is worn on the head and has no parts in the mouth that is used to direct the horse

A bitless bridle is a general term describing a wide range of headgear for horses or other animals that controls the animal without using a bit. Direction control may also be via a noseband or cavesson, if one is used. The term hackamore is the most historically accurate word for most common forms of bitless headgear. However, some modern bitless designs of horse headgear lack the heavy noseband of a true hackamore and instead use straps that tighten around a horse's head to apply pressure in various ways. These are often specifically patented and marketed as "bitless bridles", usually referencing a particular type of headgear known as the cross-under, though other designs are sometimes also given similar names.

Fiador (tack)

A fiador term of Spanish colonial origin referring to a hackamore component used principally in the Americas. In English-speaking North America, the fiador is known principally as a type of throatlatch used on the bosal-style hackamore. Its purpose is to stabilize a heavy noseband or bosal and prevent the bridle from shifting. It is not used for tying the horse.

Mecate rein

The mecate is the rein system of the bosal style hackamore used to train young horses. It is a long rope, traditionally of horsehair, approximately 20–25 feet long and up to about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is tied to the bosal in a specialized manner that adjusts the fit of the bosal around the muzzle of the horse, and creates both a looped rein and a long free end that can be used for a number of purposes. When a rider is mounted, the free end is coiled and attached to the saddle. When the rider dismounts, the lead rein is not used to tie the horse to a solid object, but rather is used as a lead rope and a form of Longe line when needed.

Lead (tack)

A lead, lead line, lead rope (US) or head collar rope (UK), is used to lead an animal such as a horse. Usually, it is attached to a halter. The lead may be integral to the halter or, more often, separate. When separate, it is attached to the halter with a heavy clip or snap so that it can be added or removed as needed. A related term, lead shank or lead chain refers to a lead line with a chain attached that is used in a variety of ways to safely control possibly difficult or dangerous horses if they will not respond to a regular lead.

Diamond hitch

The diamond hitch is a lashing technique used mainly in the field of equine packing, to secure a set of objects, for instance a pair of pack-bags, pack-boxes or other gear onto a base, for instance a pack saddle frame, in which case it requires the use of a lash cinch. In the general sense it requires the base to be equipped with at least two points of anchorage, and a rope which is used to lash the object down onto the base. There are two types of Diamond Hitches, a single, shown here, and a double diamond hitch which is not shown.