In the American West of the 1950s, talented rodeo rider Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) quits after an injury. Returning to his hometown, he gets a job on a ranch. He strikes up a friendship with Wes (Arthur Kennedy), a fellow ranch hand who dreams of being a rodeo rider. Wes talks Jeff into training him, and joins the rodeo circuit with the reluctant approval of his wife (Susan Hayward). But when the two men start to disagree, Jeff returns to the circuit himself.