There are many reasons for the "furor" over horses. Horses are NOT food animals. That's not just an opinion - it's the reality that the FDA considers horses to be companion animals and so permits the manufacturers of horse products to include ingredients that are never to be used in food animals. Even one exposure to these banned substances and that animal must NEVER enter the human food chain. NO withdrawal periods for banned substances. Some 70% of equine veterinary medications - as well as many other widely used products - contain ingredients that fall into this category.
Many other products are referred to as "Essential" and can be used, but the horse must undergo a six month long withdrawal period. Our kill buyers don't know or care WHAT the horses have been given. They falsify documentation and go their merry way.
Another thing - these days, horses ARE companion animals. That doesn't mean they're not ridden, but there is a bond between horses and their owners that is not seen with other animals, even dogs. We LOVE our horses as individuals. The kill buyers know that most horse owners would never even consider selling their partners, best friends, companions, members of the family to slaughter. So they steal them, they purchase them under false pretenses from sellers who would never KNOWINGLY sell their horses to a kill buyer. They rig auctions so they can always get the best horses - the very ones that would be the easiest to re-home.
The entire slaughter procedure was designed for our food animals - cattle, pigs, etc. Horses are SO different that these methods and techniques designed for cattle and pigs simple do NOT work for horses, and they can't even come close to being in compliance with the Humane Slaughter regulations. Horses as creatures of flight, and will completely panic when their flight reaction is triggered. The law says the captive bolt must render the animal insensible with ONE shot and that proper head restraints are used. Neither of these is the norm with horses. Many of them are shot as many as four or five times - or more - and even then they are very likely to regain consciousness while being bled out. Head restraints are NOT and cannot be used with horses. Horses would rip them out of the wall or break their own necks trying. These panic stricken horses are a danger to themselves as well as the shooter. There is simply NO way to humanely slaughter horses in the fast-paced, assembly line structure of modern mass kill commercial slaughter plants.
NO one raises horses for food production like cattle. Not ANYWHERE. Why? Because it's too expensive compared to cattle. Horses have one of the lowest reproductive rates of any domestic animal - ONE foal a year and they almost never twin. Their gestation period is longer, they are more likely to need veterinary help during birthing. Foals mature much more slowly. Horses require better fencing and more room that cattle because they are a VERY active species - and they often bruise and cut themselves, which required veterinary drugs that are banned.
Horses have twice as much blood - pound for pound - as cattle. It can't be used for anything, it's almost impossible to process - so there you have twice as much blood to get rid of without damaging the environment. There is much more waste from horses. They don't have nearly as large a radio of meat to bone as cattle. Horse bones are much bigger, and you can't use equine "left overs" for ANYTHING. They are too contaminated with the aforementioned drugs.
So, we horse owners live in constant fear of our horses somehow ending up in the slaughter pipeline - MANY are stolen, especially if you live anywhere near one of these plants. I know because I once did that. I had many friends whose horses were stolen and my own horse just barely escaped the same fate. You can't imagine how horse owners feel when these things happen to their beloved horses. Heartbreak doesn't even begin to express it.
If you have never loved a horse you will never understand.