• The novel opens on a small ranch in Salinas, California. Carl and his wife, Mrs. Tiflin, own the ranch and have a 10-year-old boy, Jody. Billy Buck, a ranch hand, also lives on the farm and helps out.
• Jody wants to help more on the farm but is not given much responsibility; he spends his days at school or trying to keep himself busy on the ranch.
• One day, Carl and Billy Buck return with a red pony for Jody to take care of. Jody is incredibly excited and takes great care of the growing horse, waking up early to spend time with it and working diligently to make sure it is being well-trained and cared for.
• One day, Jody is nervous about leaving his horse out in the pasture for fear of rain. Billy Buck promises to take his horse in if it starts to rain...
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