Champion Pony Hunter Spellbound
“This is destroying my child,” says Maria Chungunco.
A billing dispute with her child’s trainer, Kimberly Stewart of Glenwillow Farm, Inc. has turned into every horse owner’s nightmare. Notices that Chungunco’s highly sought after pony Spellbound will be sold at a public auction on August 25, littered the 2014 Pony Finals.
Maryland’s Stewart claims Chungunco owes $207,000 for services rendered.
Chungunco is asking the court to stop the allegedly fraudulent sale of her daughter’s pony by Stewart.
The pony mom doesn’t deny she owes funds associated with Spellbound. Chungunco says the problem is the fees owed are less than $25,000, which is nowhere close to the allegedly padded invoices she began receiving in April. Chungunco says Stewart refused to sit down and discuss the bills, always putting it off to later.
Exclusive Pre-Purchase Exam
The relationship took a tumble when Stewart rolled out the junior hunter named Exclusive. Stewart told Chungunco he could be bought for $100,000 since he was blind in one eye.
“Stewart told us others wanted to buy the horse for more,” says Chungunco, “Stewart said she wanted my daughter to have the horse [to] go be famous. We thought Stewart was looking out for us so we agreed for Stewart to arrange and handle the vetting.”
In February, Hope Batchelor, DVM of John R. Steele & Associates, Inc. vetted Exclusive in Florida. Stewart allegedly told Chungunco, other than the eye, the horse vetted well. Chungunco made the first of two payments for the horse directly to the seller Jolli Farm.
When it was time to make the second $50,000 payment for Exclusive, Chungunco says money was tight. They asked for an extension or if they could return the horse since it exhibited behavioral issues when her daughter tried riding it. Stewart allegedly said the seller would not extend and would sue the Chunguncos if they didn’t pay immediately.
“Stewart claimed she went ahead and made the payment on our behalf — and that we could reimburse her a few weeks later with 18% interest,” says Chungunco.
When the Chunguncos requested the pre-purchase examination of Exclusive from Stewart the news was not good. Not only was the horse blind in one eye, but the gelding had an active suspensory injury from August 2013 that was still fresh, navicular in both front feet, he was lame at the time of the examination, had pathology on all four legs, and had a prior colic incision.
Dr. Batchelor closed the report advising “the mild soreness in the right front in combination with the ultrasound abnormalities, suggest that the future soundness of the horse may be in jeopardy.”
Despite the pre-purchase findings, Stewart completed an insurance application, which included Dr. Batchelor’s medical certificate. Dr. Batchelor certified she had no knowledge of any reason the horse would have lameness issues and no knowledge of prior surgeries.
In hindsight, Chungunco says the horse’s vetting issues may explain the behavior problems he was exhibiting under saddle.
Stewart filed the Bill of Sale between the sellers of Exclusive, now listed as Rose Hill Farm, and herself with the United States Equestrian Federation as of April 9, 2014. The document states she bought Exclusive for $100,000.
Chungunco says she confronted Stewart regarding her misdeeds related to Exclusive. Stewart allegedly told Chungunco she had a buyer for Exclusive for $150,000 and would rectify the problem. Chungunco says Stewart told her the sales proceeds from the horse would be applied to her bills. That never happened. Consequently, Chungunco was barred from the stable. When Stewart left for Kentucky on July 22nd with Exclusive, Chungunco says Spellbound was left padlocked in a stall at Stewart’s Maryland farm.
“There is no greater pain than watching your child miss the very opportunities she worked so hard to accomplish,” Chungunco says about Stewart stealing her daughter’s opportunity to compete at Pony Finals and complete her run at Indoors. This was her last year showing in the ponies.
A suit is being filed this week against Stewart and Dr. Batchelor in Florida regarding the Exclusive matter.
A message left for Stewart seeking comment was not returned.