Mason Lowe is a bull rider in the Arkansas Cowboys Association. The twenty year old cowboy began rodeoing when his dad “throwed me on (a […]
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Mandy Bari rides a horse with a disability, but the horse has no idea that he is at a disadvantage. Her ten year old barrel horse, Forest (named after the character in the movie “Forest Gump”), is blind in one eye. Forest, whose registered name is Forest Firewater, was born ten years ago, after his dam carried him for twelve months. When he was born, his front legs wouldn’t straighten out, so he wore braces.
As a four year old, Mandy made the Barrel Futurities of America Finals in Oklahoma City on him. When he was seven, he developed an irritation in the eye. In the process of doctoring it over a month and a half period, he scratched it while rubbing it, and an ulcer developed. The veterinarian treated the ulcer for another three weeks, but it never improved. Forest was in so much pain, that the vet advised Mandy that the eye should be removed. Mandy agreed, and Forest’s right eye was removed. Two days later, Mandy brought him home. “He was fine, he was running and playing and had no pain.”
And Forest has no idea that he only has his left eye. As he runs the barrel pattern, he loses sight of the first barrel, but rarely knocks it over. “He runs exactly the same as if (the eye) was in there,” Mandy says. “He runs normal to me.” And the loss of the eye hasn’t changed his temperament, either. “Most horses I know that have lost an eye are skittish and you have to be careful around them. But not him. My little girl is around him all the time, and he knows right where you’re at.” Mandy speculates that the loss of his sight in the eye was gradual, so Forest never realized his vision was gone.
Mandy has competed on Forest at three of the ten Arkansas Cowboys Association Finals Rodeos for which she has qualified. She rode him in 2010 at the Finals, just four days after his eye had been removed. In 2011, she was second in the average on him, and in 2012, she won the average.
The Arkansas Cowboys Association member has lived in Jonesboro, Ark. her entire life. Before she had Forest, she grew up on a little gray mare, Dolly. “Everybody in the state remembers ol’ Dolly,” Mandy says. She went to the ACA Finals on Dolly three times, and after Dolly, she rode a bay mare named Hazel, who also carried her to the Finals.
Mandy is a graduate of Westside High School in Jonesboro and Arkansas State University, where she graduated with a degree in animal science. She worked as a secretary for a construction company and as a vet tech, until May of 2012, when she had her daughter, Laura Mae. Now she is a stay at home mom.
She and her husband Chuck married in 1999. Chuck has never competed in rodeo but loves it, “more than I do,” Mandy says. He goes with her and helps get Forest ready. This year, he’s helped babysit Laura Mae while Mandy runs. He also drives tractor to do the groundwork at some of the big barrel races, including the Lucky Dog Barrel Races.
Mandy also competes in the International Pro Rodeo Association, the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association, and in 4Ds. Laura Mae travels with her mom and dad, unless it’s going to be a late night, and then she stays with her grandma. Mandy’s dad and brother, Randy and Cody Emerson, are also ACA members.