I make the trip to the auction about once a month; I sell some of my animals there, and I've been looking for a young bull for a while, and I just have to wince every time we get to the horse portion of the auction. There's a sad parade of horses, some young, some old, some with stories, some without, and they get sold for pennies a pound. It really makes me question why people keep horses at all when they're valued so little. Who is breeding all of these discard horses? It seems to be mostly women who are associated with these horses; that's who I see handling them mostly, and I wonder what the attraction is. It certainly isn't financial -- I see horses as one step up from boats. A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into.
What you don't see in the video is that the owner of the horse paid $25 to put the horse into the auction ring - and pays that whether the horse sells or not. I have to give credit to the horse owner -- they are doing about the only thing that they can to dispose of an unwanted horse, but there are many other owners who don't bother to take them to the auction; they'll just turn them loose on someone Else's property, or put them into someones trailer while they're out on a ride. Friend of mine was out endurance riding and came back to find their trailer full; there was no room for their own horse.
While it did cost the horse owner something, this was cheaper than calling a vet to euthanize the horse and then a rendering plant to dispose of the corpse -- that runs $300-$500 in my area. If you have a neighbor with a rifle and a backhoe it's a bit cheaper, and some horses go that way, but it seems like such a waste to me.
I'm all for having animals as pets, but I draw the line when the pet weighs more than a few hundred pounds and costs the general public millions of dollars a year.
I'd like those folks who would ban horse slaughter to step up and take all of these horses I see every week, and more importantly; the horses that I don't see every week that get abandoned or neglected and then the county government has to step in to rescue at huge expense.
Horses should be licensed, and the license fees should be sufficient to pay for the costs that are inflicted by horse owners on the general public. If you can't afford a license, you can't afford hay.