Scott Mansch: For Susie Syverson, football and horses go well together

Walnut Grove native Susie Arbo owns American Paint horses called Senior and Junior. They were once known as Warpaint, and were familiar figures at Kansas City Chiefs home games.
Walnut Grove native Susie Arbo owns American Paint horses called Senior and Junior. They were once known as Warpaint, and were familiar figures at Kansas City Chiefs home games.
(Photo courtesy of Susie Arbo)

When Susie Syverson was growing up on the farm near Walnut Grove, she loved dancing.

And football.

And horses.

That she’s been able to have a career while combining those passions in the big-time has truly been a blessing.

“Working for the Kansas City Chiefs,” she said, “has been the best thing ever.”


Susie Arbo is a motivational speaker these days in Kansas City. But she’s known best in the KC area and beyond for her appearances at Chiefs games aboard beautiful American Paint horses.

Scott Mansch
Scott Mansch

For more than a decade, the blonde cheerleader and a champion charger known as “Warpaint” were a major part of the amazing ambience at Kansas City home games.

Susie and the steed also made countless promotional appearances on behalf of the team. She started working as a cheerleader and dancer for the Chiefs in 2008. Soon thereafter the organization turned 50 and a decision was made to bring back a dormant tradition that included riding a horse in celebration both before the opening kickoff and after Chiefs touchdowns.

Susie got the job because the organization knew of her history back in Walnut Grove.

“We grew up around horses and cattle,” she said. “I spent my whole life showing and riding horses and I was also a cheerleader and competitive dancer.”

Susie graduated from Tracy High in 1999 and went on to South Dakota State University, where she was also involved in dance.

“My goal was always to become an NFL cheerleader,” she said.

She worked for the Storm, a semi-pro football team in Sioux Falls, and eventually attended a training camp affiliated with the famed Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She later attended a similar instructional event for the Chiefs, who hired her as a cheerleader.


Soon the opportunity with “Warpaint” arose.

“It was just meant to be,” Susie said.

The original formerly called “Warpaint” is 24 and known now as “Senior.” An additional Pinto horse called “Junior” is also a veteran of the Chiefs’ games.

Susie owns the horses, having been gifted them after the Chiefs decided to “sunset” the act a few years ago. Susie, who owns a business called Country Crossroads Counseling, uses the two beautiful steeds for animal-assisted therapy.

It was difficult when Susie learned her role with the Chiefs was over.

“Since the pandemic, mental health has turned into such a huge need,” she said. “So I felt like this was God saying, ‘OK, this chapter is closing for you and it’s been amazing and wonderful and has set you up for this awesome next chapter of growing your business with animals and therapy and helping people everywhere. And now I get to go places and speak about it. How cool is that?

“It was hard in the moment, but I also knew that God’s got more in life for me to do.”

Susie has extensive family ties in southwest Minnesota. Her folks, Bob and Annie Syverson, still have the home place and her sister and brother-in-law also have a home nearby. Another sister, Laura Deslauriers, is a real estate agent and hair stylist in the Slayton-Currie area.


While Walnut Grove is a long way from the NFL, it felt a little bit closer last week as the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles approached.

“I always knew I wanted to keep going with cheerleading and dancing,” Susie said, “but I never ever knew it would take me there. That’s for sure.”

The Worthington Trojans boys tennis team will feature lots of new faces as the team graduated eight of its 10 varsity starters from last season.
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Though Susie no longer rides the pretty Paints at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, rest assured the horses are being cared for.

“They’ll be with me until the day the Lord calls them home,” she said. “They’re not going anywhere. To have them involved in my counseling business is a great thing. Now they’re just affecting people’s lives in a different way.”

Scott Mansch can be reached at

Opinion by Scott Mansch
Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at
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