Also, to counteract all the "well, as long as they're regulated" arguments:
You want the slaughter of any animal to be truly humane? Then be prepared to pay way up.Good regulation costs money, and humane practices cost money. When you have a quota of dead animals to meet, it's hard to do it slowly, painlessly, AND cheaply! When all of America wants a freaking cheeseburger for $1, then SURPRISE! The livelihood of those cattle are not going to be taken into very much consideration. Same goes for horses, or any other meat-intended animal. It's hard to regulate something when people aren't willing to go the extra mile for it.
Anyone who has ever hunted knows that making a clean kill takes lots of time and effort, and then there's gutting the animal and making it edible that takes even more time. You also develop a respect for the animal when you actually have to chase it down and really play the role of predator. Imagine doing it that way for every animal slaughtered. Meat would be very expensive and hard to come by, like it had always been since before factory farming. Not like we're supposed to be eating as much as we do nowadays, but that's another biological discussion for another day, and blog really.
Factory farming and slaughter plants make it very easy: you put the animal in a chute, and you try to get a clean shot with a bolt gun (which rarely works on a horse because their brain is much further back in their head than a cow. It'll probably knock them unconscious or stun them,, but kill them? haha Oh, you dreamer, you!). The animal is practically handed to you on a silver platter. There is very little respect and work involved. To make it as humane and time-consuming as skillfully hunting a deer would make the whole process much longer and much more expensive, but the quality would probably very good. I'm sure the same could probably be said when America was a largely agricultural society and most families had to raise and slaughter their own meat. You knew where it came from, you recognized the costs going into it, it was done a bit more carefully because you were going to eat it, and overall a bit more respect was involved. And, yes, I know the desperate ate horsemeat too, especially in bad droughts, bad economic times, or if the horse had outlived its purpose. A bullet is much more effective and humane than an iffy bolt gun (and if you want to get down to it, it's cheaper than a euthanasia shot for all those who complain that they can't afford to put their horse down, and much more humane than slaughter or neglect.)
When you remove yourself from the raising of your own food, you develop less respect for how it's made. You want it to come fast and you want to buy it cheap. You don't realize that asking those things greatly decreases the quality of not only the final products, but also of the labor and animals and other materials going into it.
And on a final note: there's a reason the E.U. banned American horsemeat. Raise your hand if you give your horse vaccinations. How about a horse-sized amount of vaccines that could probably kill a human, because horses are larger animals with different metabolism? Now, keep your hand raised if you have given your horse phenylbutazone or another powerful NSAID? How about daily for maintenance? How about if, once again, you give the horse-sized amount that would, once again, kill a human? Oh, and what about a de-wormer? Ivermectin is quite poisonous last I checked, and so are all the other de-wormers. There's a reason they say "do not use in animals intended for human consumption" on the tube or package! Oh, and all those supplements!
Now, let's put those all together and see how many horse-patties have unsafe amounts of those in them! Many of those meds can stay in a horse's system for months, especially your long-term meds like vaccines and de-wormer. And it only takes a few months for a horse to slip through the cracks. Many thoroughbreds deemed unusable for track life can go from stable to slaughter in less than a week, perhaps still chuck-full of all those fabulous things injected into and fed to them. Because any ole' horse can go to slaughter in America, there is no regulations for how they are raised and what goes into them because, ONCE AGAIN, I have YET to meet a horse who was specifically raised for slaughter! So even if there is a selection process of sorts (which would up the price) then I doubt you would find very many horses to slaughter (thus defeating the purpose of slaughtering them for profit in the first place) because I have yet to see a horse in America that was intentionally raised for human consumption!
Still want the pony platter now? Yeah, I hope you choke.
Still want those regulations? I hope you have the money and the patience for a horse to be humanely processed and give somebody the okay to raise a pasture full of Prancers for slaughter so you can have what goes into them regulated :)
EDIT: Snowhawk is right, there are farms in Europe that specifically raise horses for slaughter. I do believe that if you put those here in America, every blessed animal rights group or activist person in the country and beyond would have a fit. Plus, if such farms were to be established, they would most definitely compete with (and probably win out over) all the random horses from the kill auctions. And if people are setting up American slaughterhouses to deal with unwanted horses, then that would defeat that purpose entirely. So it all boils back down to the fact you just can't regulate these things!
Second rant over.