Mary Walker...three for three at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo! WPRA report from Las Vegas | The Jurga Report: Horse Health, Welfare, and Care |

The smile on barrel racer Mary Walker's face says so much. She's having the time of her life.

Who wouldn't? Walker and her great horse, Perculatin, posted their fastest run of the week in winning the third straight go-round at...."

@FranJurga writes: "Mar-eee! Mar-eee! Mar-eee!" American sports has a new hero, and her name is Mary Walker.

The record crowd in the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas last night got their money's worth. Mary delivered her fastest time yet, crediting her horse's long, easy stride style.

Mary has a long rodeo in front of her, let's keep cheering her on!

Why is everyone cheering for a 53-year-old rookie mom from Texas? The rheumatoid arthritis sufferer was set back last year when her son was killed in a horse-hauling highway wreck. So her husband bought her a horse. The horse fell on her during training, crushing her pelvis, breaking vertebrae and leaving her in a wheelchair for months.

But she got back into the saddle and rode that horse to the American Quarter Horse Association's 2012 Barrel Racing Horse of the Year title. Along the way, she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the first time in her life!

Since she pulled her rig into Vegas, everything's been coming up like the roses embroidered in her cowgirl shirts: three nights of rodeo, three straight wins.

She is now #1 in the WPRA World Top 15 Standings. She's a rookie no more: a pack of former world champions are chasing her on the scoreboard.

If you can watch tonight on a cable channel called GAC, do it!

Via Susie Blackmon, Fran Jurga