In his striving to be a rodeo champion, Stoney Burke must contend with a self-serving friend, an unscrupulous promoter, a young punk itching for a fight, a beautiful woman betrothed to a rival, and the meanest bronc on the circuit--Megaton.
Political rivals in Kate City use the rodeo and a prizefighter as pawns in their grudge match. When the boxing interests attempt to bully the rodeo into postponing its event, Stoney sets out to fight city hall.
Soames Hewitt, the idle son of a judge in a traditional Southern community, fancies himself a bull rider. Stoney, E.J., and Cody become the targets of Soames' vicious temper when he believes they have dishonored his family's name.
A bull rider is killed, which scares the town into canceling the rodeo. Stoney's attempts to have the rodeo restored and to help the dead man's prideful but dirt poor family put him at odds with powerful city merchant Reese Ludlow.
Stoney's main challenger in the championship tournament is not only battling him over the rodeo, but a woman as well. Stoney discovers that the man is hiding deep emotional issues which make him unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
Sam Hagen is determined that his son Jess win the rodeo championship. But Stoney learns that Jess has a bad knee, and that even a slight injury could permanently cripple him, a fact which Jess doesn't want his father to know.
A fellow rodeo rider and friend of Stoney's is killed during a ride. Before he dies, he asks Stoney to take care of his girlfriend. But the dead man's brother blames her for his death and calls her a jinx, as this is the second time a man she cared for has died. She comes to believe she is a jinx herself.
A former champion horsewoman hires Stoney to capture the stallion that went wild after an accident which left her in a wheelchair for life. She wants him to tame the horse, but her father offers Stoney double the amount if he kills him.
After a simple-minded stable boy helps Stoney and Ves by subduing two men trying to rob the rodeo office, he begs Stoney not to tell the press his name. But an ambitious and unscrupulous reporter uncovers it anyway and tries to hound the young man into another act of violence.
Stacy Morgan tells Stoney she has been following the rodeo circuit looking for her father. But Stoney learns that her father was actually killed in a riding accident four years ago, and that Stacy witnessed it.
A rodeo rider wants to get back on the circuit after being found innocent and pardoned of the murder he had been convicted of. But the town's organizers of the rodeo still don't want him to participate. When he insists on it, some take more drastic measures.
A weapons expert investigates the death of an international dignitary who was killed by an arrow fired by an Indian during a rodeo pre-game act. Though the film of the incident appears to show the death was accidental, the expert believes it was murder.
Dick Clark plays a police sergeant who runs a community center for city juveniles. He works with Stoney and the rodeo's fundraiser to get the center's boys to try to sell tickets for the rodeo. But not all of them are cooperating.
Stoney is invited by a friend to judge a college rodeo, but soon becomes aware that the friend's 18-year-old daughter believes she is in love with him, and thinks that Stoney feels the same way toward her.
After falling from a horse in a stall due to a stuck gate, Stoney finds himself unable to move his legs. But the doctors can find no medical explanation for it, and thus conclude that the paralysis is psychosomatic.
A hand injury forces Stoney to drop out of competition, and he is then offered a new job helping to purchase and deliver horses to take to the slaughterhouse. Very reluctantly, he accepts, but soon wishes he hadn't.