The thing is, it's a lesser of 2 evils thing. Nothing about killing an animal in any fashion is ever going to be humane in your sense of the word (completely painless and stress free). Even "humane euthanasia" isn't always humane, I've seen it go wrong even when administered by a good vet. When that goes wrong, it goes very wrong.
I have merely noticed, through research on BOTH PARTS of the argument, that horse slaughter is not an economical decision for America. The truth is, horse slaughter is costly, and will not benefit our economy. Also, horse slaughter will not reduce the number of unwanted horses. It only PROMOTES irresponsible breeding through providing a dumping ground for breeders who breed irresponsibly.
Slaughtering horses is no more costly than slaughtering cattle. The only difference is in the handling of the live animal. Slaughter does not promote the breeding of unwanted horses. Even with the lack of slaughter houses here in the US, how many news stories have we seen about someone who had anywhere from 100 to 1000 feral horses running on their land and continuing to breed and inbreed and inbreed? Stupid people promote irresponsible breeding and they will continue to do it regardless of whether there is an actual outlet for the resulting animals or not.
Also, how can having another meat product available for export/purchase going to possibly be bad for our economy? Very soon, beef is going to be too expensive for many people to buy due to the extensive drought the last couple of years and the massive sell-off that resulted. Instead of having another red meat alternative that was less expensive, you'd rather they just go without? Because of the aversion to eating horse meat here in the US, the sale of horse meat for consumption will never overshadow the sale of beef, it's just not going to happen.
With regards to your statement about unwanted horses never being in demand, that just goes to show how little experience you have had with them.
Wow, nice way to make assumptions about someone that you don't know. Cherie has probably saved more horses from going to the killer than you can imagine...definitely more than the 70 that your rescue has saved. She's been in the horse business for, I believe, over 50 years.
The horse rescue that I am involved with, Little Brook Farm, has rescued over 70 horses. Many of their horses are used in riding lessons, camps, eventing, show jumping, and dressage. Hamlet, one of their horses who was rescued for a few hundred dollars, is a grade who was headed for slaughter. He now competes in training level eventing. They have received an offer, which they turned down, for $40,000 for this horse. He was previously in the bracket of "unwanted horses" and would have ended up in slaughter had they not have rescued him. Another one of their horses, a thoroughbred, was appraised for $22,000 only a few months after his rescue. Yet another example of the value of the so-called unwanted horses is a horse they just recently rescued. He is a thoroughbred who was bought as a two-year old for $150,000. Just a few years following, he was headed for slaughter, emaciated. He is now a healthy, sound, 5 year-old. The truth is, if a majority of the unwanted horses were given training and care instead of being sent to slaughter, they would be perfectly useful horses.
How nice that you were able to find some diamonds in the rough, but not all slaughter bound horses are suitable to be rescued and rehabbed into trustworthy riding partners. Many are older, unbroke/unhandled, lame, diseased, soured/ruined, or psychotic. What other outlet is there for those horses?
Banning slaughter would reduce the number of horses bred, as breeders would be unable to dump their horses and would instead have to find homes for them.
No, sorry, that's not the way it works as has been evident in the last few years regarding horse care and breeding even with the lack of slaughter here in the US. People continue to breed their fugly mutts because it's a speshul kolor or a rare designer breed like a Pintaloosafresian or exhibits some speshul gait like 3-legged-crab. They still continue to sell them off to poor unsuspecting beginner riders/buyers who see a pretty face and fall in love. If they don't find a buyer, they simply dump them at the local auction and hope they can get $25 or $50 bucks for them. Those people don't care if they get that money from the killer or some poor naive soul or some "rescue".
It would actually be a good business opportunity, as people would soon realize the value of many of these horses once their are trained. There would be more places like Little Brook Farm, who take the population of primarily good horses (although unwanted) and train them in something at which they excel. The truth is, most of the unwanted horses are only unwanted because they have not been given a job.
The thing is, bleeding hearts go around "rescuing" those horses that look to be in need of the most help, not those horses that could go on to live a full and productive life. How many news stories have you read in the last few years about someone "saving" a horse that will be capable of nothing more than plodding around the pasture as a companion for the rest of it's life; that horse with the prosthetic leg, that horse that was badly burned, etc. Those people spend thousands of dollars on saving one animal that will never be good for anything when they could have taken those thousands of dollars and bought a dozen or more young/unhandled horses, rehabbed/trained them, and found them good homes. Nope, they feel like they are doing more good by saving the animal that should be put down than saving the animals that have the best chance at a real life.
Because those bleeding hearts "save" those horses that are basically worthless in the grand scheme of things, then a horse that is actually nice and broke and worthwhile is losing a potential home.
Finally, horse slaughter is NOT humane. Everything, from being loaded into Double-decker stock trailers (supposed to be illegal, but still happens), to the actual slaughter process. By the way, I have read articles from the AVMA. The captive bolt is designed (even according to the AVMA and AAEP) to be administered by a veterinarian. Veterinarians do not administer the captive bolt in slaughter houses. It is administered by employees who are not highly trained on administration of this device. This, combined with the lack of proper head restraint, causes a decreased accuracy. Since the captive bolt can only be administered effectively to a very precise location, it frequently results in ineffective stunning.
But, with increased funding for setting up proper slaughter houses, designed for horses instead of cattle, there is increased funding for education for the folks doing the actual handling and killing, there is increased funding for equipment and fencing designed for horses to make the experience as low stress as possible.
As to your post with those links, they are irrelevant because they are not dealing with the subject at hand. You're trying to compare apples to pomegranates there. It was not the presence of horse slaughter and the sale of horse meat that caused that drop, it was the fault of big businesses who compromised the quality of their products and then proceeded to mis-label them.
It's no different than when we have an outbreak of salmonella or e-coli here in the US. Whatever produce it happens to be found on (tomatoes, cantaloupe, jalapeńos, lettuce, etc), then the sale of that particular produce fall off for a time because people are scared.