Teenager Hamilton Roark, balanced between society and prison, is given a chance at a decent environment on Cal and Martha Stuart's ranch in Montana. Roark receives his share of bruises and bumps as he tackles the grueling tasks of riding, horse taming and bronco busting with Billy Cal's grandson. Refusing to admit his growing fondness for his new life, Roark is always quick to pick a fight or regard Billy's friendship as weakness. But like Ship, his outlaw pinto, gentle breaking was not for Roark. In a final showdown with Billy, Roark takes the beating he deserved. This, plus his growing ability to express positive feelings, accept kindness and turn his back on unnecessary trouble sparks Roark to redefine cowardice and courage. With sentimentality deleted, the consistent handling of the delinquent character who does not respond immediately to a consistent handling of the delinquent character who does not respond immediately to a ""decent environment"", but slowly and painfully makes his way, elevates this to a realistic plane. Absorbing too is the picture of ranch life presented.