Ellen is a 14 year old girl living on a farm in rural Manitoba at the beginning of the last century. When she was 7 years old her Dad told her that the beautiful Morgan mare that he'd just traded for a sow pig was hers. She can hardly believe it and after she enjoys an exhilarating ride around the pasture on the horse's back, she names the horse Nell and the love between girl and horse begins. Even though her parents struggle to pay the back taxes on their farm, they are still in jeopardy of losing it to auction and Ellen is terrified that Nell will be sold to pay for the overdue property taxes. Ellen dreams of faraway places and adventures with a longing only the young can understand but throughout the family's difficulties with keeping their farm, the trauma of caring for and losing their horses to a deadly disease and as she grows and leaves home she discovers that her roots are firmly planted with her family and in the rich texture of home life that she was raised in.