In a rush to pack up during a thunderstorm after blowing a tire, the Circus Sorano (a traveling circus) accidentally leaves behind a baby zebra. The foal is rescued by Nolan Walsh, a retired thoroughbred-racehorse trainer. Nolan takes the zebra home to his ramshackle farm, and leaves it in the care of his teenage daughter Channing, who names him "Stripes". The other farmyard animals try to educate Stripes about life on the farm, but he is convinced that he is destined for the nearby racetrack, even though he isn't a real racehorse (a fact he doesn't realize for three years).