Aug 1, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorAt age 54, Mary Walker is the No. 2-ranked racer again this season
World champion barrel racer Mary Walker has endured ups and downs in her rodeo career.
The 54-year-old cowgirl was on top of the world last year when she captured her first PRCA title in December in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center. Walker lives in Ennis, Texas.
Walker made an appearance in Riverton Tuesday at the PRCA Ram rodeo at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.
The defending world champion hit a barrel on her run in Riverton and didn't finish in the money.
"I'm probably still on the high because it's something that you don't ever realize would happen to you," said Walker in an interview before she took her turn in the Riverton rodeo. "When the announcer says you are the world champion every time you go, it's kind of getting soaked in now."
Walker had never made the national finals before last year. The barrel racer won $146,000 in Las Vegas to jump into the No.1 position.
"It was the most exciting thing in the world," Walker said. "To make your first national finals and then to win was just a dream come true."
Her horse is called Latte.
"My horse was a big part of my success," Walker said. "He stayed sound. He loved the Thomas & Mack. He just did awesome."
The first major trial for Walker was when she lost her 21-year-old son, Reagon Walker, in a car accident in April 2011.
"That put a damper on my year," Walker said. "I just started running Latte at some rodeos. He was a little green. I had to take a look back and decide what I wanted to do."
Another challenge for Walker came in June 2011.
Latte landed on Walker during a barrel racing competition.
"I had to have a lot of pins in my hip," Walker said. "I was out for about eight months. I didn't even know if I would ever walk again. It was a really difficult thing."
She came back in December of 2012.
"I started my journey back," Walker said.
Walker said she still thinks about her son all the time.
"There are certain little things that you think about, and you know that he is taking care of me," Walker said. "I probably wouldn't be out here if it wasn't for him."
Walker was on a roll before her turn on Tuesday.
She is sitting second in the world standings in barrel racing for the season.
She won $45,000 in Calgary, Canada.
She placed second in a round last week at the annual Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne.
Walker claimed a rodeo in Eagle, Colo., and in Rock Springs to complete a busy week of action.
"I had a really good week last week," Walker said.
The Texas native was impressed with the rodeo arena in Riverton.
"What a great facility," she said. "It looks great. I'm just glad to be here."
Walker is on pace to make a run for her second world title in December in Las Vegas.
Walker has made $107,000 this rodeo season.
Sherry Cervi from Arizona is in the No. 1 spot at $116,000.
"It will be a lot like last year," Walker said. "The top 15 horses are really tough horses. It will just be a fight until the end."
Fallon Taylor is third ($93,000) and Brittany Pozzi stands fourth ($78,000). Both are from Texas.
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