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My Friend Flicka

My Friend Flicka  
Author Mary O'Hara
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publication date 1941
Media type Print (Hardback)

My Friend Flicka is a 1941 novel by Mary O'Hara, about Ken McLaughlin, the son of a Wyoming rancher, and his horse Flicka. It was the first in a trilogy, followed by Thunderhead (1943) and Green Grass of Wyoming (1946). The popular 1943 film version featured a young Roddy McDowall. It was followed by film adaptations of the other two novels, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka in 1945 and Green Grass of Wyoming in 1948. A television series followed during 1956-1957 that first aired on CBS, then on NBC, with reruns on ABC and on CBS between 1959 and 1966. The Disney Channel re-ran the program during the mid-1980s too.


Plot summary

Ken McLaughlin is a ten-year-old boy who lives on a remote Wyoming ranch, the Goose Bar, with his father, Rob; his mother, Nell; and his older brother, Howard. Rob is often impatient with Ken because the boy daydreams when he should be attending to practical matters; Nell, however, shares her son's sensitive nature and is more sympathetic. Howard, the older son, was allowed to choose and train a colt from among the Goose Bar herd but, although Ken loves horses, Rob doesn't think his wool-gathering son deserves such a privilege yet.

File:Remount ranch.jpg
The room on the Remount Ranch outside Cheyenne, Wyoming where Mary O'Hara wrote "My Friend Flicka" was added to the main house by Mary O'Hara and her husband around 1931.[1]

At the beginning of the novel, Ken has again angered his father by returning home from boarding school with failing grades, and will therefore have to repeat fifth grade, an expense Rob can ill afford. Nell persuades Rob to let Ken choose a colt of his own. Ken is unable to decide which of that year's yearlings he wants until one day he sees a beautiful sorrel filly running swiftly away from him, and makes his choice.

Rob, once again, is annoyed with his son; this particular filly has a strain of mustang blood that makes her very wild – "loco", in ranch idiom. All the Goose Bar horses with this same strain have been fast, beautiful, but utterly untameable, and after many years of trying to break just one of them, Rob has decided to get rid of them all. Ken persists, however, and Rob reluctantly agrees to let him have the filly. When Rob and Ken go out to capture her, she lives up to her family reputation: she tries to escape by attempting to jump an impossibly high barbed wire fence and injures herself severely.

Ken spends the rest of the summer nursing the filly. He names her Flicka – Swedish for 'little girl' – and spends hours every day tending to her needs and keeping her company. Flicka comes to love and trust the boy, but her wounds from the barbed wire fence fester and cause a dangerous blood infection. She begins to waste away and grows so thin and weak that Rob decides that she must be shot to put her out of her misery. The night before the order is to be carried out, Flicka wades into a shallow brook, stumbles, falls, and is unable to rise. Ken finds her there and spends the rest of the night sitting in the water, holding her head in his arms. Although Ken nearly dies from exposure, the cold running water cures Flicka's fever, and all ends well.

See also

  • Flicka (a 2006 film loosely based on My Friend Flicka, and with Gunsmoke's Buck Taylor in a cameo role)


  1. "Remount Ranch, Information & Specifications." April 13, 1992. This publication was produced as part of a marketing package to sell the 1,766-acre ranch.


External links


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