Planners of Chef’s Unbridled, the annual celebration supporting Fieldstone Farm, decided for this year to move the event from a custom party tent, literally in a field, to Landerhaven, now a Driftwood Hospitality venue. Sunny and Willy, ambassador ponies for Fieldstone didn’t seem to mind as they collected pats and admiration from the 600 guests who passed by on their way into the event.
The ponies were standing next to their own personal vehicle. Flying in the face of COVID that kept so many of their riders and volunteers away, Fieldstone Farm purchased a van in 2020 so they could bring the joy of horses to schools, the VA, senior living communities, and mental health program centers. In a way, it was perfect timing to strengthen the outreach program.
This year’s Chefs Unbridled was happy business as usual for the ponies, and indeed for all who attended. Patrons and chefs agreed, outdoors is nice, but indoors is more convenient. Teams from nine of the hottest restaurants in NE Ohio offered small plates of incredible deliciousness: beef brisket and short rib, a “big a**” meatball, chicken in a sandwich or pierogi, sushi, seafood chowder, and vegan tostada or panzanella. Foodie paradise. Plus a 300-bottle wine pull. Plus a bourbon tasting from Tom’s Foolery, and a beer tasting from 8th Day Brewing Company.
After dinner and a dynamic live auction, a poignant video told the story of one young woman’s recovery from utter despair to thriving college student, thanks to “her” horse and guidance from Fieldstone Farm. Lest anyone think the therapeutic riding center is just a place for pony rides, organizers pointed out that one thousand students a year benefit from the programs on an ongoing basis. From the medically fragile to those with communication or mental challenges, working with horses is the answer to so many issues.
Fieldstone Farms raised a record $300,000, which topped their original goal for the event. Proceeds from the benefit went to help subsidize the cost of riding for students who otherwise could not afford the benefits the farm offers. Important? You bet.
Because after all, a horse can change a life. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER