Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: The stories we hear about how the West was won are all lies. The history of the West was written by the horse. Wherever a settler left his footprint there was a hoof print beside it. Men came further and further west to stake their claim on the great American wilderness. But they encountered a strength that couldn't be tamed - wild horses. Mustangs. The settlers called them parasites that would strip the land and starve their own herds. They couldn't domesticate them so they destroyed them. Isolated and hungry, they were on their way to disappearing from the face of the earth. Sometimes when the light disappears an afterimage remains - just for a second. Mustangs are an afterimage of the West, no better then ghosts, hardly there at all. No one really wants them, not ranchers, not city people - that's their destiny. Let them disappear once and for all, along with all the other misfits, loners, and relics of a wilderness no one cares about anymore. Lucky for us a few mustangs survived, hidden away in the mountains. We need to protect them, for they are the hope of some kind of living memory of what the promise of America used to be - and could be again. I believe there is a force in this world that lives beneath the surface, something primitive and wild that awakens when you need an extra push just to survive, like wildflowers that bloom after fire turns the forest black. Most people are afraid of it, and keep it buried deep inside themselves. But there will always be a few people who have the courage to love what is untamed inside us. One of those men is my father. There was once a time when Americans came West to discover their destiny. Today they seem to move around every which way, restless and unsettled. But I think they're still looking for the same thing - a place where they can be optimistic about the future, a place that helps them to be who they really want to be, where they can feel that this life makes sense, a place where they can feel what I feel when I'm riding Flicka - because when we're riding, all I feel... is free.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [narration] I believe there is a force in this world that lives beneath the surface, something primitive and wild that awakens when you need an extra push just to survive, like wildflowers that bloom after a fire turns the forest black. Most people are afraid of it and keep it buried deep inside themselves. But there will always be a few people who have the courage to love what is untamed inside us. One of those men is my father. There was once a time when Americans came west to discover their destiny. Today, they seem to move around every which way, restless and unsettled. But I think they're still looking for the same thing - a place where they can be optimistic about the future, a place that helps them to be who they really want to be, where they can feel that this life makes sense, a place where they can feel what I feel when I'm riding Flicka - because when we're riding, all I feel... is free.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [narration] I live on top of the world... in the Never Summer Mountains of Wyoming, 8,000 feet closer to the sky. In my mountains when spring finally comes to save me from a perpetual winter, the world comes to life again and I remember what it is I'm here for. I'm the only daughter in a long line of ranchers and when we let our horses out for the first time every spring, I love to watch them rediscover the world. I can see in them an expression of my own restless spirit. Charged with an appetite for adventure, they take to the land without hesitation. They are pure power. When I see them running wild and free, I often think of the first horses and how they were the true pioneers of America.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Are you going to kill Flicka?
Rob McLaughlin: I'm just going to have a look at her, baby.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: It's okay, Daddy. You can shoot us.
Rob McLaughlin: Our daughter lives in a fantasy land.
Nell McLaughlin: So do you! Look at you, sitting on top of Cowboy Mountain looking down at the world passing by. When are you going to look at your daughter and realize that she's you?
Rob McLaughlin: There's no good reason why this animal should be alive.
Nell McLaughlin: There's a very good reason she's alive-she's got mustang blood in her. She's a fighter, just like our girl.
Rob McLaughlin: How bad is the horse? Go back and put her down.
Jack: She'll hear the shot.
Rob McLaughlin: She'll think its thunder.
Jack: No she won't. Look, Katie's smart. She sees things. Little details most people ignore. The ones that make a difference.
Gus: She'll know it's Flicka.
Rob McLaughlin: I can't let that animal suffer. I'll do it myself.
Howard McLaughlin: Hey, keep your voice down!
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Nobody can hear us way out here.
Howard McLaughlin: You didn't know? He's got hidden cameras and microphones everywhere!
[Pretends to use a walkie-talkie in the fence post]
Howard McLaughlin: Can you read me, Dad? Over. What's that? Yeah, yeah Dad, I'll tell her. Okay. Over and out. He said he doesn't need me. He said you're the one he needs... he just doesn't realize it yet.
Rob McLaughlin: [to Howard about the herd of horses] How do they look?
Howard McLaughlin: Well... pretty much the same as yesterday.
Rob McLaughlin: Well, that can change in a heartbeat.
Howard McLaughlin: Right.
Rob McLaughlin: You know, animals are a lot like us, son. They'll always find a way to tell you exactly how they're feeling. You've just gotta learn to listen to 'em.
Miranda Koop: [to Howard] I think everyone writes a story in their head that eventually becomes their life and if you don't write it yourself then someone else is gonna write it for you.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Calm down, Flicka.
Nell McLaughlin: You named her?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Flicka. That is the word, isn't it?
Gus: Oh, yeah. Beautiful um... young girl.
Jack: Well, you got the girl part right.
Howard McLaughlin: You can have Chariot.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: It's not the same thing.
Howard McLaughlin: Well, four legs and a tail. Food goes in the front, out the back.
Howard McLaughlin: Dad.
Rob McLaughlin: Don't.
Howard McLaughlin: I'm sorry. I really screwed up.
Rob McLaughlin: Look at me. You're a good man.
Howard McLaughlin: Yes sir.
Rob McLaughlin: Now just stay with your mother.
Howard McLaughlin: Yes sir.
Jack: Speaking of which, you gonna put your brand on that little schoolgirl this summer?
Nell McLaughlin: You know Jack, we stopped branding our females a few years back. Isn't that right, Rob?
Rob McLaughlin: Kinda miss it, though.
Jack: Well, take it from an expert. Don't let that little Flicka get away.
Nell McLaughlin: The what?
Jack: It means uh... pretty girl or somethin'? It's what Gus calls Katie.
Nell McLaughlin: Oh he does, does he?
Gus: Uh, Flicka is just young girl, innocent. You can see in her face the beauty she will become. I uh-I think its Swedish. My momma use to call my little sister Flicka.
Nell McLaughlin: [At breakfast] And for your dining pleasure, gentlemen: Wild gooseberry pancakes with crème fraiche and rosemary chicken sausage.
Rob McLaughlin: Well, who lives better than us?
Howard McLaughlin: Uh, let me think... the Rockefellers?
Nell McLaughlin: Give her the horse.
Rob McLaughlin: No.
Nell McLaughlin: C'mon honey, training her own horse will make her responsible for something and she'll feel proud of herself.
Rob McLaughlin: Here it comes... psycho babble. This isn't about psychology. Now, this is about discipline and I'm not gonna reward bad behavior.
Nell McLaughlin: That sure sounds like psychology to me.
Rob McLaughlin: No. Horse.
Rob McLaughlin: [to Katie while she's sleeping off her fever] The day you were born and they gave you to me, I thought my hands were too rough to hold you. And you cried no matter what we did. But your mom said that that was a good sign, you were strong. It wasn't much comfort when I was holding you, pacing back and forth all night. All you did is look at me with those big, beautiful eyes. I made all kinds of promises to you if you'd just go to sleep. Katie... I forgot to keep those promises... and I'm sorry. Do you forgive me? I'll tell you every day how proud I am of you, how proud I am that you're my daughter. Just stay with me... please.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: He doesn't listen when he's this mad!
Nell McLaughlin: You know what they say: "Anger is just fear on the way out."
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Nice try. He's not afraid of anything.
Nell McLaughlin: I don't know, you could scare the heck out of anybody.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Yeah, right.
Nell McLaughlin: When you were three, you climbed out of bed, unlatched the kitchen door, and walked outside. He found you in Lightning's stall. That horse was crazy, he could've killed you and you were laughing.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: I don't remember that.
Nell McLaughlin: Yeah, well he does. Parents have this kind of... selective memory. Sometimes I think I can't remember what I did yesterday and then I swear I can remember every injury, every close-call, every 'another inch and they could've been killed' that ever happened to my children. Try and understand what it feels like to be responsible for something you love so much.
Rick Koop: Sweetie, everything changes in this life. You know, one day some lucky guy's gonna marry you. What are you gonna do if he doesn't want a ranch?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Break off the engagement.
Rick Koop: [laughs] Oh, wait 'til you fall in love, sweetie.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Well, then I guess I won't fall in love.
Jack: [to Katie after he finds her sleeping outside at dawn] Maybe you should wash up, or someone might think you slept on the ground all night.
Jack: [Jack finds Katie in the corral taming Flicka] You're not supposed to go in there!
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: What's it to you?
Jack: You could get hurt. Besides, it's what your father says.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: How long are you gonna be afraid of my father?
Jack: Um. Forever. And you? Why are you sneaking out here in the middle of the night if you're not scared?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Because I have to.
Jack: The, I'll let nobody stop you.
Rob McLaughlin: [to Nell] I didn't see the vet bill.
Nell McLaughlin: [trying to change the subject at dinner] Does someone wanna grab this last burger?
Rob McLaughlin: How much?
Nell McLaughlin: [still trying to change the subject] You know what I've been thinking about lately? If quitters never win, why are you supposed to quit while you're ahead?
Howard McLaughlin: [playing along] Or, how good can a bedtime story be if it's supposed to put you to sleep?
Nell McLaughlin: Right.
Rob McLaughlin: How much?
Nell McLaughlin: $1,648.32.
Rob McLaughlin: $1,600? That's just unacceptable.
Nell McLaughlin: Well, I'll speak to the horses.
Rob McLaughlin: I don't remember my daddy ever giving horses shots. They were healthy, they took care of themselves. Ain't that right, Gus?
Gus: Oh, sure. Back then, horses mucked their own stalls, nailed on their own shoes, even chipped in with the rent money.
Rob McLaughlin: [to Nell] You're not protecting her, you're crippling her and she'll end up being as useless as that dang mustang.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [to Rob] Flicka isn't useless! She wants to learn.
Rob McLaughlin: No, she doesn't. You want something that doesn't exist. It's time you see her for what she is.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: I know what she is!
Rob McLaughlin: How do you know a dang thing about that creature?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Because we're the same!
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [to Rob about seeing a mountain lion] I don't know where I saw it exactly, but it was there.
Jack: Did you see Sasquatch, too?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Did somebody ask for your opinion?
[Jack shuts up]
Rob McLaughlin: Help me understand something, Katie. He said he gave you the topic to your final essay in advance, and you turned in a blank paper. Not one word, and two hours for the exam.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: I wrote it in my head-just didn't put it down.
Rob McLaughlin: In your head.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Wouldn't have made a difference anyway. They just want us to spit back exactly what they wanna hear. I have an opinion, it's just not their opinion.
Rob McLaughlin: Well, their opinion is that you should repeat the year, just throw it away. Do you realize what this family does without so that you can go to a private school? Truck's passing 200,000 miles. Well, let's see if it'll do another 50. The barn roof's about to blow away. We'll patch it again for the umpteenth time and all so you can go to a fancy boarding school. But I'll go along because your mother wants you to go to college.
Nell McLaughlin: Hey, your father wants it, too.
Rob McLaughlin: Well, now we'll have to worry if she'll even graduate.
Rick Koop: [to Rob] Esther went out shopping with our interior decorator. You know, at this point, it'd be cheaper just to adopt that lady.
Miranda Koop: [to the horse that Howard is bringing to the stall] Hey, handsome.
Howard McLaughlin: [jokes that she was calling him that] Oh, thanks. What do you think about the horse?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [tearfully, to Howard about him leaving for Boston University] And now you're going away.
Howard McLaughlin: Come on. I'm changing time zones, not solar systems.
Nell McLaughlin: [to Rob] Unload Flicka before you look like a damn fool!
Rob McLaughlin: What's wrong with you?
Nell McLaughlin: You made this decision without me because you know it's wrong!
[selling Flicka to the rodeo]
Rob McLaughlin: I'm done discussing this.
Howard McLaughlin: [to Rob] Well, I'm not done. Katie found Flicka, she should decide!
[If she wants to keep her]
Rob McLaughlin: Until you're running this ranch, I'll make the decisions around here!
Howard McLaughlin: I don't wanna run your ranch!
Nell McLaughlin: Howard!
Howard McLaughlin: No! I'm sick of this place! You know what? I've given it a lot of thought and guess what? I'm never gonna be a rancher. Never. I wanna go to college.
Nell McLaughlin: Why didn't you say anything?
Howard McLaughlin: 'Cause this is what you wanted me to do. Katie wants this ranch. I don't want any part of it.
Rob McLaughlin: I'm sorry you feel that way.
Nell McLaughlin: [to Rob] When the kids were little, I'd tuck 'em in and say, "I love you 'til the mountains tumble down." Right now, I feel like they could blow away at any second.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: The people have spoken.
Howard McLaughlin: No, the inmates have taken over the asylum.
Rob McLaughlin: Norbert, give me a horse.
Nell McLaughlin: Two horses!
Norbert Rye: Y'all need to calm down.
Nell McLaughlin: No, we're not gonna calm down 'til we find our daughter.
Rob McLaughlin: [Rob wants Nell to stay behind while the men look for Katie] You should go back!
Nell McLaughlin: Not a chance!
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [to Rob] But you said if I don't get back into school then...
Rob McLaughlin: Yes, that's what I said and I meant it.
Howard McLaughlin: So Dad sent them your essay.
Rob McLaughlin: Told 'em I didn't know much about writing, but I sure as heck know about the west and so does my daughter and it's right there in her essay. Every opinionated, ornery, hot-blooded part of it.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: What did they say?
Nell McLaughlin: What does anyone say to your father?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: A trim, split ends. That's it.
Nell McLaughlin: Sweetheart, just a few inches for the summer.
Nell McLaughlin: You stop it. I get better reasoned arguments from the hens.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Short hair makes me look like a boy.
Nell McLaughlin: No. That would be impossible, you're so beautiful. What was that thing that uh, Gus said? You're a... a flicka.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: A flicka?
Nell McLaughlin: Yeah. 'Pretty girl'.
[changes the subject]
Nell McLaughlin: So how's your friend Stephanie?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Shallow. Vain.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: The usual.
Nell McLaughlin: Since when?
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: Since Eric. Or was it Justin? I lost track.
Nell McLaughlin: Well, you never know what'll happen. People can surprise you.
[pours bucket of water on Katie's head]
Nell McLaughlin: Surprise!
[Katie shrieks and chases Nell, both are laughing]
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: [to Nell] That's the wild horse. Isn't she beautiful?
Nell McLaughlin: Well, she's something, that's for sure.
Rob McLaughlin: That's a dangerous animal.
Katherine "Katie" McLoughlin: She's just scared.
Nell McLaughlin: I'd say she's about two years-old.
Rob McLaughlin: Yeah, two years wild.
Nell McLaughlin: Hey, Howard! Where's your dad at?
Howard McLaughlin: Don't ask.
Nell McLaughlin: Something Katie did?
Howard McLaughlin: You guessed it.
Nell McLaughlin: So? How bad? Give me a category.
Howard McLaughlin: Oh, I don't think he made a category for this one, yet.
[after everyone has left for the rodeo, Gus stays behind with the dogs]
Gus: Gus: Well, what'll it be tonight, boys? Crazy Eights or Canasta?
[dog barks twice]
Gus: Canasta it is.
[Nell sees Rob eating cotton candy]
Nell McLaughlin: How can you eat that stuff?
Rob McLaughlin: Makes me sweet.
Nell McLaughlin: You're always sweet.
Rob McLaughlin: Norbert! It's your lucky day.
Norbert Rye: Oh? Is that right?
Rob McLaughlin: You ready to meet a miracle on four legs?
Rob McLaughlin: Three year-old stallion, been savin' him just for you. He's somethin', ain't he, honey?
Nell McLaughlin: Mm, beauty.
Norbert Rye: Yeah, I can't use anymore quarter horses. I mean, any profit and middleman in horses is fading faster than a mountain sunset.