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In 1843, U.S. government horse buyer Monte Hale and his men return to his ranch in Sweetwater, Texas after a long sojourn. In making repairs to the rundown ranch, Monte angers his neighbor, Mary Lou Gardner, when he erects a fence across a section of his property that local ranchers have been using as a shortcut. When Mary Lou crashes her wagon through the fence intentionally, Monte follows her and demands an apology, which Mary Lou refuses. When her dog Skipper follows Monte home, he sends the dog back with a a note attached to his collar asking Mary Lou to be friends. At Mary Lou's ranch, horse buyer Vance Daly intercepts the note and, as he has designs on Mary Lou, is offended by Monte's impudence. When he goes out to the Hale ranch to confront Monte, however, he recognizes Monte as an old childhood friend. Because of the past relationship, Vance confesses that Mary Lou does not return his personal interest and that Monte is free to pursue her. Vance is unaware that his boss, Lyons, and his chief henchman, Boyd Blackwell, are crooks who plan to cheat Mary Lou out of her horses at her auction the following day. At the auction, Vance bids against Monte for the horses and when the secret ballot reveals a tie, Blackwell suggests a horse race to break the tie. After Monte wins the race, Vance's horse is discovered to have a sponge pushed up its nose to hamper its breathing. Vance accuses Monte of fixing the race and Mary Lou awards Vance the horses. Later, Vance suspects that Blackwell is involved with the horse tampering and when he confronts him, a fight ensues. Lyons arrives in the midst of the fight and shoots Vance in the back. Alerted by sounds of the scuffle, Monte approaches and seeing Vance dead, challenges Blackwell. The sheriff rides up and Blackwell immediately accuses Monte of murdering Vance. When the sheriff attempts to arrest him, Monte makes a break and escapes. That night Monte and his men sneak over the Mary Lou's ranch and overhear as Lyon and his gang plot to steal the horses. Monte and his men intervene, and after a chase, capture Blackwell and force him to confess the truth about Vance's murder. Surrounded by Lyon's other men, Monte sends Skipper with a note to Mary Lou to get help. As Monte gets a written confession from Blackwell, the sheriff arrives and captures Lyons.