NO WN, I have never been to a branding, and I have no question as to horses having thinner hides than cattle. But when loading a 10, 20, 30 horses of questionable training and temperment onto a trailer, how do you purpose they do it? I don't like the thought of horses being prodded, but I know that sorting sticks can have little affect on a balky horse who is loading into a huge trailer with a bunch of unfamiliar horses, and don't even get me started on those rattle paddles- anyone who has used a rattle paddle can tell you those can cause mass histeria to a group of horses in the best of situations. ( I have used those things on and off horseback when we had cattle and they are sooo much harder to desensitize to than tarps or other various blowy noisy things!). Its better to prod one or two horses to get the herd moving than it is to scare the living ****e out of everybody.
Do I like it? NO, but I can't blame the these people for the way its done. Nor do I expect them to do it in a way that some one could get hurt (ie. Trying to nicly lead every horse into the trailer).
And I just have to say, that if you think this doesnt happen just because the horses are slaughtered here in the states, you would be dillusional.