Well, I wasn't expecting this. I have leased out both horses. This was not my plan, nor my intention, but it is the reality. I had started advertising Sparky for lease (and had gathered enough interest that a trial was arranged for the weekend I would be in Atlanta), but I had also privately offered a lease on Star to a neat kid of whom I am fond (and who really loves Star). For various reasons, that situation wasn't going to work out, but said neat kid's mom offered to pass along the information to other people on their IEA team. The assistant coach of the IEA team caught wind of this, and called me the same day, asking if either of my horses might be appropriate for a rider of hers looking for a lease. Based on the description I was given of the kid, Star was the more suitable horse (2'3" - 2'6" local hunters). After a bit of discussion, we arranged for a trial of Star, but I was thinking to have them try Sparky, too.
I had also previously arranged for a trial of Sparky; the potential lessee was interested in a smaller horse for dressage and possibly some trail riding, which sounded about perfect for Sparky. Both trials were scheduled for the Sunday I was in Atlanta. Sparky's potential lessee arrived in the early afternoon to try him and immediately fell in love with his personality (who wouldn't?). The potential lessee's friend (who was actually the person who had contacted me initially) rode Sparky after I did, dubbed him perfectly safe for the potential lessee (and loved him), and then the potential lessee rode him (and loved him). We all talked for a bit, and we all felt that it would be a good fit for horse and rider.
Star's potential lessee, trainer, and parents arrived Sunday evening. We did have lights to ride under, because I have the most wonderful barn owners on the face of the earth, who put in lights back when I was getting Star ready for Oklahoma City. Because I wasn't so keen on leasing Star, I was fully prepared to dislike these people... and of course, they turned out to be extremely nice. The trial was the same sort of pattern - I rode briefly, then the trainer rode, then the kid rode. Star behaved perfectly, and as I talked to the trainer and listened to her coaching her rider, I was much more impressed than I had been prepared to be. Talking with the trainer, I found that our horse keeping and horse care philosophies were very similar. After watching the kid ride, I realized that my initial instinct that Sparky would not be a good fit was probably accurate - he is probably not the best horse to try and learn on - so I didn't bring up that idea.
Of course, the very next day, I heard back from both parties, and each wanted to move forward with leasing the horse they had tried. After thinking long and hard, talking with Oren, talking with Joyce, talking with Debbie, and talking with Honorary Big Sister Jen, I decided to lease out both horses for an initial 6-month period. Oren and I weren't thinking to bring a horse up to NY before early spring, anyway, so what was another month or two? An initial period of six months also gave plenty of time to make sure that each lease was truly a tenable situation. Thankfully, both parties agreed to starting out with six months.
So, last weekend, I went back to Atlanta to finalize lease details. Having checked references before making the trip, I visited both barns, signed paperwork (Saturday), gathered up my horses' belongings, rode my horses one last time, gave them baths (Sunday), and saw them off (Monday). It's really bittersweet - on one hand, I'm thrilled that other people also love my horses enough to want to "own" them, but on the other hand, they're MY horses, and I don't want to share and not be in charge of what is happening with them. That said, each horse left with a new halter that said, "Horse's Name, Loved by New Lessee." So I'm not a completely spoiled brat. ;-) I really do feel that each horse went to a good home and that each lessee will take very good care of my horse. The feedback I've received so far is that both horses have settled in perfectly well, have been perfectly well-behaved, and their lessees adore them.
So... I guess we'll see where we are in a few months.