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Rob McLaughlin, an unsentimental, disciplined ex-Army man, struggles to make a success of his Wyoming horse ranch. Despite reassurances from his wife Nell, Rob worries that Ken, their ten-year-old son, will never outgrow his dreamy, clumsy nature and become a good student and productive worker. Ken is obsessed with having a colt of his own, but after the boy carelessly causes the horses to stampede as they are being rounded up, Rob angrily rejects Ken's request. Later, Rob frets over the ranch's mounting bills and worries that the herd will be ruined by the "loco" strain introduced by a wild albino stallion. Nell interrupts Rob and pleads with him to give Ken a colt, saying that he needs the opportunity to prove himself and learn responsibility. Rob reluctantly acquiesces, and the next day, Ken chooses the beautiful year-old filly of Rocket, one of the albino strain. Rob voices his disapproval, telling Ken that the filly will be "loco" like her mother, but Ken insists that Rocket's swiftness, and the good sense of Banner, the filly's father, have produced a fine horse. Ken names the filly Flicka, which ranch hand Gus tells him is Swedish for "little girl," and eagerly anticipates winning her friendship. On the day that Flicka and Rocket are to be rounded up, the McLaughlins are visited by neighbor Charley Sargent, who breeds racehorses. Charley is amazed by Rocket's speed and offers to buy her for $500 if Rob can deliver her to his ranch. When Rocket is loaded in the truck, however, she rears in terror and is killed when her head hits the ranch's overhead sign. Furious and heartsick, Rob calls horse broker Williams and arranges to sell all of the albino breed, but Ken still refuses to part with Flicka. When Flicka is brought to the corral, however, she also reacts wildly and cuts herself badly on a barbed-wire fence. Ken again refuses to believe that Flicka is as untamable as Rocket and gently tends to the filly while she heals. As time passes, Ken wins Flicka's confidence and is surprised at how readily she allows him to put a halter on her. One of Flicka's cuts becomes infected, however, and she grows so ill that Rob tells Ken that she must be shot to end her suffering. Rob asks Gus to shoot Flicka when Ken is not present, but Ken sees Gus leave for the pasture and begs him to wait until morning. Ken then sneaks down to Flicka's pasture and spends the night holding her as she lies in the lake. In the morning, the cool water has reduced Flicka's fever, but now Ken is seriously ill. Although Rob still wants to shoot Flicka, Nell asks him to wait, and he goes to check on the young horse. Rob shoots at a maurading mountain lion, and when Ken hears the shot, he assumes that Flicka is dead. Unable to kill Flicka, Rob sits with her throughout the night, and it is her warning nicker that alerts him to the reappearance of the mountain lion. Rob kills the beast and in the morning, takes Ken to the pasture to see Flicka. As the boy happily runs to his horse, Rob admits that Flicka has taught Ken responsibility and inspired him to have more patience and faith.