America, Texas, 1946. The old man is dying the owner of the ranching ranch. His thirty-six-year-old daughter intends to sell the land – she does not bring income, and life in the outskirts definitely does not suit the heiress. Sixteen-year-old John Grady tries to persuade his mother not to sell the ranch on which the representatives of this family worked for many years. He himself adores horses, and rural labor for him is the norm of life. Mother is adamant. John Grady seeks help from his father, who has not lived with his family for a long time, but he recently officially formalized a divorce and refused to claim land.
John Grady decides to go to Mexico and try to find there what he was denied fate in his native Texas. With him, his friend, seventeen-year-old Lacey Rolins, is leaving.
On the way to them joins a teenager on a magnificent bay horse. He is called Jimmy Blevins and informs him that he is sixteen, although it seems
difficult to give him more than thirteen, and the name is suspiciously the same as the name of the preacher known in these places. They continue the triple way, although John Grady and Rolins have an uneasy feeling that this acquaintance will bring nothing but trouble.
The new companion is stubborn, self-centered, aptly shoots from a revolver and is not distinguished by talkativeness. He reports that he escaped from home, not wishing to obey his stepfather, but whence he took a magnificent bay horse, it remains a mystery.
It is this stallion that causes conflict with far-reaching consequences. The first thing they see when they are in the small Mexican town of Encantada is the Blevins revolver sticking out of the back pocket of a local resident digging into the car’s engine. Having traveled around town, John Grady and Rolins eventually locate the bay.- The operation – on the return of the property of Blevins is carried out on a dead of night, but it’s not possible to retire unobserved: barking dogs raises the entire district, and the pursuit is dispatched after the “horse thieves”.
In order to confuse the pursuers, the detachment disintegrates. Now John Grady and Rolins are again traveling together.
Soon they manage to get a job on a big hacienda. John Grady’s love for horses does not go unnoticed by the owner, Don Hector Roche, who himself is a passionate horse. John Grady moves to the stable and concentrates on the problems of horse breeding. Rolins remains in the general barracks with the shepherds-vakero.
Fleeting meeting with the seventeen-year-old daughter of the owner Alejandra abruptly changes the life of John Grady. He falls in love with a beautiful Mexican, and, apparently, she drew attention to a young American cowboy.
Their walks remain undetected. Duenya Alphonsea, Aunt Don Rochy, fears that such a hobby will bring her great niece a lot of grief. She invites John Grady into the house to play chess, and then for tea quite unequivocally gives him to understand that he does not approve of his contacts with Alejandra.
It is not known what direction the events would take, but then Alejandra herself takes the initiative. Insulted by her aunt’s interference in her personal life, she, contrary to the arguments of common sense and the rules of behavior of a Mexican woman, plunges headlong into the pool of passion. At night, she comes into John Grady’s room, and then they go on a night out on horseback.
One day, John Grady and Rawlins spot a detachment of horse policemen on the road, who, passing the barrack, go to the owner’s house. Then they leave, but the feeling of impending disaster remains.
One morning, in the cage of John Grady are the police and take him. In the courtyard he sees Rawlins in the saddle, with his hands clasped. He is also handcuffed, and then escorted to Encantada, where he is placed in a local prison. There they again meet with Blevins. It turns out that, having left the chase, he got a job at some ranch and, having earned some money, returned to Encantada to get his revolver back. However, even here the return of property is not easy. Only this time Blevins can not leave the chase and, shooting back, he kills one of the local residents, wounding two more.
John Grady and Rolins are summoned for interrogation to the captain, the head of the local police. He demands that they confess that they have infiltrated Mexico in order to steal horses and rob the locals, and all the assurances of young Americans that they came here to work honestly seem to the captain the most outright lie: he can not understand why residents of Texas are hired to work for a Mexican ranch, if at home for the same job they could receive several times more.
A few more days pass, and three prisoners are put in a truck, which must take them to the prison of Saltillo. But only John Grady and Rawlins get to the destination. The truck stops at an abandoned farmstead, the captain and relative of the deceased lead Blevins into the eucalyptus grove, two shots are heard from there, then the Mexicans return to the car together.
Before parting with their wards, the captain makes it clear that they can not survive in a Mexican prison and if they want to be at liberty, they should make a deal, in which, apart from the “material part,” silence is played not least by the fact that occurred in the eucalyptus grove. The first days in prison confirm the justice of the captain’s words. John Grady and Rolins have to fight with their fists to defend their right to life. Then local authority “Peres”, who lives in a separate house and enjoys all the privileges that a bird of his flight can receive in prison, is interested in them. Perez transparently hints that he is ready to mediate between them and the prison authorities in order to provide them with a release, of course, not without payment. John Grady and Rolins report,
Soon after this conversation, Rawlins is attacked by a bandit and inflicts several stab wounds on him. He is sent to the hospital in grave condition, and John Grady realizes that, most likely, a new assassination is just around the corner. On money, which he managed to transfer to him before the death of Blevins, he buys a knife. As it turned out, the premonition did not deceive him: on the same day in the dining room he was attacked by a man who was clearly hired. In a desperate fight, John Grady mortally wounded his opponent, but he himself goes to the prison hospital.
His life, however, is out of danger, and he is quickly recovering. Once a stranger comes to his chamber-chamber and finds out whether he is able to move independently. It turns out that this is none other than the prison governor. Soon they already meet in his office, where he passes John Grady an envelope of money and reports that he and Rawlins are free to clean up on all four sides. John Grady realizes that they were bought by Alfonso’s duen. He also understands on what terms she did it.
Rawlins announces a decision to return home. John Grady, on the contrary, is going to again visit the hacienda, where he lived and worked, to explain both the duenya Alphonsea and Alejandra.
When he returns there, it turns out that Alejandra is now in Mexico City, but the duenna of Alphonse agrees to accept him. John Grady tries to explain to her that neither he nor Rawlins had anything to do with “horse stealing”, that they only helped his companion to get the horse that escaped from him, but soon realizes that that’s not the point. The main reason for their arrest is the revenge of Don Rocie, who took the daughter’s affair seriously with his employee.
John Grady seeks a meeting with Alejandra, and they spend one day in the city of Zacatecas. This is a very sad meeting. Alejandra informs him that he still loves him, but gave the floor to never see him again – only at such a price one could buy him freedom.
They part. This time, it seems, forever. Now John Grady is on his way to Enkantada to return the horses – his, Rawlins and Blevins. He takes the captain as a hostage and achieves his own, but in a shootout at the ranch gets a bullet in the leg. Taking the captain with him, he goes to the mountains, hoping to confuse his tracks and get away from the persecution. One night, it is still overtaken by armed men, who, incidentally, have nothing to do with the police. They take the captain and leave with him in an unknown direction, leaving John Grady guessing who they are and why they need the captain.
Now he returns to Texas, trying to find the real owner of the bay stallion, but he does not succeed. Someone, however, presents his rights to the horse, but as a result of the trial their claims are recognized as untenable and the bay remains in John Grady’s property.
He again meets with Rolins and returns the horse to him. He offers John Grady to stay with him, to work for oil production, where they pay well, but John Grady refuses. He feels alien in the new industrial world, the road to Mexico is closed to him, the family ranch is sold. In the finale, he rides west, to the sunset, followed by the bay stallion Blevins. The outlines of the Texas plain become vague, and it is difficult to say whether the silhouettes of the rider and horses dissolve in real or mythological space.