Behind the Slide – Ari Mischo, Colorado

At just 3 years old, Ari Mischo spent a month in the hospital after being exposed to black mold. Ari was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury that doctors said would prevent her from functioning almost completely. She proved them wrong. 

“My speech was the last thing that came back to me. I went to speech therapy, but nothing really helped. My parents said I’d always point horses out in books when I was little.” 

Living in Wisconsin made it difficult to find horses on drives; dairy cows speckled the landscape more frequently. 

“Eventually my parents took me to see a horse since the speech therapy wasn’t working. The second I got around horses, I was talking and the words were just falling out of my mouth for the first time since my brain injury.” 

That is where Ari’s love for horses was planted. Her passion for horses began to grow when she started taking weekly lessons as part of her speech therapy regimen.

“Most of those lessons were just me brushing a horse for about 45 minutes and then sitting on them for the last 15 minutes. Horses have been my saving grace. Without them, I wouldn’t be talking today.” 

Ari started riding when she was 7 and got her first “pasture pet” when she was 9. She estimates this first horse was over 30 when she got him. 

“He was just my therapy horse. I started really getting into riding when I was in the eighth grade, that’s when I decided I wanted to go show.” 

A show horse came that next year in the form of ARC Electrical Storm, aka “Boomer.” The 11-year-old gelding was first shown in the Open but transitioned to the maturity and derby classes as he aged. 

“When I got Goober, I showed him in the ranch horse versatility classes. He was really good in that event; it helped take his focus away from reining for a little bit.” 

Ari quickly realized she looked forward to the reining portion of the ranch versatility most. 

“Shane (Brown, NRHA Professional) took us to a summer slide in Denver and we had an incredible week. The lowest we placed was third. It was a real eye opener that this is where I was meant to be.” 

Ari and Goober left it all out on the dirt on Monday during the Limited Non Pro where the pair scored a 140, which put them in fourth place in a class of 50 head. 

Check back for more Behind the Slide features as part of the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel coverage.