Ban on Double Decker Horse Trailers Passes House Committee


Belgian horseIn 2007, a double-decker trailer carrying 59 Belgian horses in Illinois overturned when the driver ran a red light and hit another vehicle. Nine of the horses died on the scene and six were later euthanized due to their injuries.

In response to this and other incidents involving horses on double-decker trailers, U.S. Represenative Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Steve Cohel (D-TN), introduced legislation to ban these trailers for use in transporting horses. The legislation, called the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009, has been passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Some states have already banned or attempted bans of the use of double-decker trailers for horse transport, but H.R. 305 would create a nationwide ban, covering all states and U.S. territories.

Double-decker trailers are intended for transporting shorter livestock such as cattle and pigs. Horses are generally too tall for the amount of space given. Horses also use their long necks for balance while in transit, but the low clearance in a double-decker trailer, sometimes less than 5′, does not afford them sufficient space to raise their necks. The National Agriculture Safety Database recommends a minimum of 7-8 feet of clearance for horses in a trailer.

“It is time that we put an end to the inhumane practice of using double-decker trailers to transport horses,” Rep. Kirk stated. “Stacking these animals one atop the other in a moving vehicle is simply an accident waiting to happen. It is not only a cruel way to transport horses, but it also puts human lives at risk.”

The bill prohibits transporting horses “in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.” Violators would be fined $100-$500 per horse transported in a double-decker trailer. Had this law been in effect in 2007, those responsible for transporting the Belgian horses in Illinois could have been fined up to $29,500.

The next step for the Horse Transporation Safety Act is to move to a vote of the full House, which is expected to happen after the Horse returns from recess in September.


  1. Thank you Steve COHEN (D-TN). Steve is up for re-election. If you live in Division 9 in TN, please remember this and vote your conscience.

  2. it’s sad that someone would put horses in one of those trailers. I can’t believe that they would even fit. Another sort of transport used for horses that should be banned is using trucks with grates around the bed and loading a horse into that. If that truck overturned the horse would never make it.

  3. I think they should ban them for cattle too. I’ve seen just as nasty accidents involving cattle. If it’s cruel for a horse, why is it not cruel for cattle?

  4. Yes, ban transporting horses in double deck trailers. They are too short and the horses suffer. The Amish have been known to beat their large draft horses into these trailers to ride on their knees. Horses are companion animals, not livestock, and their comfort should be considered.

  5. Subjecting ANY animal to a double-decker forces them to lower their heads–which means, loss of balance and defenses. This is where injuries occur and high levels of stress. This would be like several humans being crammed into 4 foot boxes stacked atop of eachother and piled onto a flatbed…

  6. We must ban double deckers and long trips too, also we must protect wild horses from BLM and we must PASS HR 503, S727, to stop the predators that cruelly abuse and prey on Americas horses, this great law would BAN all horse slaughter and all transport of our horses to other countries to slaughter .


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