Young Katy claims a wild horse as her own -- an effort to prove to her father that she is capable of one day taking over the family ranch.
Ranch, Horse, Horse Ranch, Summer, Father Daughter Relationship
Horses, Coming Home, Journey of Self-Discovery, Fathers and Daughters
Katherine "Katy" McLaughlin (Alison Lohman) has big dreams of administering her father's Wyoming horse ranch one day, but her father, Rob (Tim McGraw), has other plans for his daughter. He is currently grooming her older brother, Howard (Ryan Kwanten), to take over the ranch and sends Katy away to an exclusive private school where she constantly feels like a misfit. Being a similar, independent spirit to Katy, Rob has a hard time understanding his daughter as she continually defies his authority to follow her own path.
When she comes home for the summer, Katy is instantly met with her father's disapproval because she did not finish a writing assignment on one of her finals, but is happily greeted by her mother, Nell (Maria Bello), and Howard. As much as Katy wants to run the ranch, Howard does not. He longs to attend college, but has a hard time telling his father because he does not want to disappoint Rob.
One day while out riding, Katy finds a wild mustang, a beautiful jet black mare. Katy feels an instant connection with the horse, seeing how similar they are in personality. She sets off to tame the mare, which she names "Flicka" (the Swedish word for "girl"), despite Rob's protests that he does not want a mustang near his horses, feeling it will cause nothing but trouble.
Later on, Flicka is captured when the family and their fellow ranchers are rounding up the herds. Katy is excited and wants to start training her. Rob still does not want a wild horse running amongst the saddle horses on his ranch and forbids Katy from going near Flicka. Determined to prove she can run the ranch just as well as Howard, Katy defies Rob and starts working with the mare at night. Flicka slowly warms to Katy and the two developed an extraordinary bond that moves everyone on the ranch.
When Rob finds out that Katy has disobeyed him again, he sells Flicka to the rodeo, leaving Katy devastated. Both Nell and Howard are furious at Rob, saying that they make decisions about the ranch as a family and that he went behind their backs by making one without including them, especially because he knew it was wrong. Seeing his sister heartbroken over losing her beloved horse, Howard finally stands up to his father and says that he does not want the ranch.
The family becomes even more divided when Rob refuses to return Flicka. Still angry at him for deeply hurting Katy and feeling betrayed themselves, both Howard and Nell refuse to help Rob with the ranch, which he is now considering selling since Howard does not want it. Meanwhile, isolated in her room, Katy starts writing about Flicka to try and escape her pain.
With the upcoming rodeo slowly approaching, Katy sees the opportunity to get Flicka back with the help of Howard and his girlfriend, Miranda (Kaylee DeFer). At the rodeo, Howard and Katy (disguised as a cowboy) enter the competition that Flicka is being used in. Not realizing who she is at first, the frightened mare runs from Katy until the girl calls her name. Rob, however, catches onto his daughter's plan and tries to intervene. Katy freezes at the sight of her father, fearing that she is about to lose Flicka again. Thinking quickly, Howard boosts his sister onto the mare's back and lets the two escape.
Lost in the mountains, Katy does not know how to get back home in the dark. Since she knows the terrain, Flicka slowly makes her way towards the ranch, carrying Katy on her back. Back at the rodeo, the family reconciles and begins searching for Katy as a fierce thunderstorm moves in. As they near the ranch, Katy and Flicka are attacked by a mountain lion. The mare bolts, throwing Katy to the ground and the cat goes to attack her. Flicka protects Katy, but is badly wounded. The girl ties her shirt around the mare's wounds and refuses to leave her. Already cold and wet, she quickly develops a high fever.
After hours of searching, Rob finds the two and brings a delirious Katy back to the house. As her fever spikes dangerously high, Katy calls for Flicka as Nell tends to her, hoping the fever will break. Rob thinks Flicka is mortally wounded and believes she should be put down. When his fellow ranchers refuse, knowing Katy will hear the shot, Rob decides to do it. Overhearing the argument, a dazed Katy stumbles into the room and gives her f