BILL SUNBECK, WILLIAM SUNBECK, KERRI SUNBECK SELLERS BEWARE! DO NOT LEASE TO OR ALLOW A HORSE/PONY ON TRIAL TO THESE INDIVIDUALS. YOUR HORSE WILL ONLY DISAPPEAR AS OURS DID! posted on behalf of Susie **** Canyon Lake California
Bill & Kerri Sunbeck contacted us in June looking for a pony for their daughter. We confirmed that we had one available that would definitely suit and one that might, but would need further training. The sales price was discussed and it was immediately arranged for the Sunbecks to come try the most suitable pony.
They loved the pony, who hadn't been ridden for two weeks prior to that day and yet packed their tiny daughter around, and wanted him. Despite knowing that the pony was for sale and the asking price, they said they did not have the money to buy and would we consider payments or a lease? They seemed lovely and like a great home for the pony, so we said we'd think about it.
We agreed to lease the pony to Bill & Kerri Sunbeck at a reduced price. Of course, they wanted to make payments on the lease price. This should have been when we ran the other way, but the pony needed a home and they seemed incredibly nice and trustworthy so we agreed.
Plus they expressed interest in taking lessons at our barn, so what was the risk? From Bill's email of June 19th, One last thing, my wife and I were impressed with you as a trainer. If we come out to pick up Riot, could we take at least one formal lesson with you.
They also requested a trial period to allow them to be sure of the match and for their trainer to assess the pony. We agreed to the trial period and a lease agreement was signed on 6/25/08 and the pony collected and taken to the equestrian facility at Canyon Lake. A deposit check for the first payment was left and, not surprisingly, there were not enough funds available when it was taken to the bank on the agreed upon day.
By their own account, the trial period went fabulously and they wished to keep the pony. Cash was exchanged putting the lease agreement fully into force and I then heard nothing but how wonderful the pony was, photos were sent etc. They were made aware of the pony's requirement for maintenance and that that was reflected in its price.
We then start to receive emails that the trainer is claiming the pony is unsound. Of course he says he saw this one day during the trial but not the next, so he didn't bring it up. As we know the pony and felt he was more than adequately sound for the job, we advised that they give him bute and continue with light exercise. They had a knowledgable friend assess the pony and agree and so they proceeded as advised. When the trainer still felt the pony was not sound, a vet was brought in for assessment. His opinion was that the pony shouldn't be ridden. With us, the pony was showing and doing well on minimal maintenance, so we of course wanted our vet's opinion.
The Sunbecks expressed their wish to be able to continue with the pony and agreed that he should return home for an assessment and exam. At this time, no refund was discusse, offered or inferred. As a gesture of good will, we offered another pony towards the purchase of which these funds could be applied should they wish to return the lease pony for good. We delivered this 5 year old, paint pony mare (which their daughter had used for a lesson on 28th June, 2008) to the Canyon Lake Equestrian Center on 26th July, 2008 to be tried while we waited for a vet's opinion on our pony, who returned home with us.
In our extensive conversations that day, the Sunbecks expressed their wish to continue with the pony should he simply require further maintenance or if the surgery mentioned by their vet be necessary. They also again expressed their unhappiness with their current trainer due to advice that wasn't entirely true.
Our vet's opinon was that the pony was fit for the purpose leased (crossrails/short stirrup) but that further maintenance (that is considered routine for many sport horses and ponies) would be a good plan. William (Bill) expressed both verbally when we collected the pony and in writing that such maintenance would not be an issue and that if surgery were required, they loved the pony enough to proceed. Surgery was therefore discussed with my vet (who discouraged it) and that information passed on to the Sunbecks.
At no point did we represent verbally or in writing that we would refund their down payment on the lease, an arrangement that is in no way provided for in the lease agreement. We stand by the fact that the first pony was accepted sound and returned to us as lame.
During this time, the Sunbecks waffled betweeen wanting to return the paint pony and wanting to extend their trial. We offered two other, possibly more suitable ponies. Again, only an exchange was offered. Several unacceptable offers were made such as a free lease or a drastically lowered price with them unable to make payment until some future date (again). If we would not accept their ridiculous offers, they expected a refund against the pony they or their agents caused to go lame. Again, no offers of such a refund were ever offered with no provision made for such in the lease agreement signed on 25th June, 2008. Instead, the agreement clearly states that once the trial period is over and payment made, there is no right of refund and the Lesser accepts all responsibility for injury or loss.
They have now had our pony mare since 26th July, 2008, wasting a considerable amount of our time. Calls and emails have frequently been unreturned when need for payment has been brought up. We accepted a reduced offer but with payment required by Friday, 5th September 2008 instead of Thursday, 25th September 2008 as offered or we would have to collect the pony. While a refund of the lease payment made on the first pony is in no way owed or due, at this time we even offered to refund that payment less our costs for delivering and collecting our pony as well as the deposit to hold her. The Sunbecks seem to be of the erroneous opinion that they can dictate the price and terms that we must accept to sell a pony that we own.
We then found that the pony had been removed from the Canyon Lake Equestrian Center, where we had delivered her to the Sunbecks. It was discovered that they were representing themselves as the pony's owner and, knowing money was owed, keeping her locked in a stable (having told the owner of the new facility that someone at the Canyon Lake Equestrian Center claimed the pony as their own).
Attempts to contact the Sunbecks were again ignored and therefore arrangements to collect the pony at 4pm on Thursday, 4th September 2008 were made. The owner of the facility contacted Kerri Sunbeck, who assured the owner that she would contact me immediately. Instead, William and Kerri choose to move the pony in an attempt to conceal it which at this time is being treated as theft with the necessary legal steps being taken.
We stand ready and willing to enter into mediation to resolve this issue as laid out in clause 16 of the lease agreement. We still believe that the Sunbecks are good, honest people at heart and have faith that this matter can be resolve in a manner acceptable to all involved. But until then, I would not respond to their numerous adverts looking for a hunter pony to lease/lease to buy (several using photos of my pony!).
This is a prime example of why you should involve your instructor/trainer in shopping for a horse and why you should (almost) never let a horse or pony go out on trial.
Relevant clauses of the agreement:
3. RETURN: Lessee shall have the right to return the Horse to Lessor at any time, for any reason during the first four (4) days of the lease with no penalties incurred. Lessee agrees to pay any and all costs incurred for the upkeep and transport of the Horse during this period.
5. Lessee shall have the option to return the horse to Lessor prior to the end of the lease term, provided, however, all lease fees hereunder are fully paid up and current through th etime the horse is returned to Lessor. No refund of the lease fee or any costs incurred to Lessee under this agreement shall be due or made.
11. RISK OF LOSS AND INSURANCE:
A. Lessee assumes all risk of loss or injury to said horse, expect to the extent causes by an act of Lessor's agent, contractors, or employees. The Lessor shall not be held responsible for loss, damage, injury, claim, demand, cost adn expense (including legal expense) arising out of or connected with the use, stabling or actions for the leased animal whether under controal and supervision of the lessee or not. The Lessor will not be responsible for any accident or injury to any person or animal who comes in contact with the above named animal, during the term of this lease.
B. Lessee shall at her/his own expense maintain in full force and effect during the term of this Lease policy or policies of mortality and loss of use infurance written by an insurance carrier acceptable to Lessor. A binder of said insurance shall be provided to Lessor prior to Lessee taking delivery of the horse; and a copy of the said policy must be mailed, registered mail, to Lessor within a month of Lessee's taking delivery of the horse.
13. DEFAULT: Upon material breach of this agreemtn by one party, the other party may terminate same; provided, however, notice of said material breach is sent certified mail to the party in breach setting forth said breach. No refund of the lease fee, all or in part, is due at any time.
San Diego, CaliforniaU.S.A.