“While the issue is as emotional for me as it is for most horse owners, something needed to happen to prevent even more horrible treatment of old and infirmed horses and those owned by people who simply can’t feed or water them any longer,” she added.

But while the new law may clear the way for the re-opening of equine slaughter operations, it probably won’t happen overnight. Sigler says he has heard through the rumor mill that there are plans for new slaughter operations in “other states,” but not in Texas.

Horse meat is a major staple in only eight countries, with China, Mexico and Kazakhstan at the top of the list. Worldwide the horse meat industry provides about 4.7 million horses a year for human consumption.

At least two Wyoming groups are considering opening horse slaughterhouses after Congress passed legislation allowing the return of USDA inspections. State Rep. Sue Wallis of Wyoming is a member of the United Horsemen and says her group formed the company Unified Equine to explore the creation of at least one horse meat processing plant in her state.

Wallis and United Horsemen, as well as other pro-slaughter groups, pushed Congress to allow USDA inspections of horse slaughterhouses.

"Restoring responsible and humane processing is a good step in the right direction. We needed a plan for dealing with the ever-growing problem of horse overpopulation on private and public lands in Wyoming," Lummis said in a media release. "More work remains but the lift on the ban is important for the humane management of horses."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says they will protest any new slaughterhouses, calling it a “heartbreaking development.” But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) argues that the ban on horse meat inspections has increased horse neglect and abandonment, and says they are temporarily supporting the new law.