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I'm a marketing consultant specializing in consumer behavior which I learned a lot about raising six kids.


My wife Linda and I booked into a Montana ranch the summer we met Dusty. Tag Owen, the ranch's owner paired Linda with a sharply handsome palomino for our riding vacation. But Tag thought Dusty, a 17-hand mule was more my type.

Dusty, as befits his kind, decidedly had a will of his own. And he was not shy about expressing it. The night before our first ride he was corralled in the paddock along with the horses, all awaiting summer guests for an early morning ride. But in the morning Dusty was gone. Despite six-feet of fence, he had no trouble rising above it and trotting off to a lower meadow where he was found having breakfast with zen-like detachment from the rest of reality.

The next day, I learned why Tag introduced Dusty and me to each other.

Dusty and I were bringing up the rear in a line of six or seven horses when suddenly the parade stopped. The lead horse balked at crossing a lively and deep banked “crick.” Horse behind horse swished flies off its flanks as the trail ride leader’s efforts to spur his beast onward were met with equine timidity.

Dusty was clearly getting agitated. He wanted to move on. He didn't like others setting his pace when it was a pace he didn't want to follow.

With no advance signal of his intentions, Dusty suddenly broke ranks, slipped downstream a few steps and in one bounding leap was across the “crick” at an even wider spot than the line of horses were facing.

I don’t think Dusty was a nonconformist just to be so, or that he was all that opposed to sticking to a plan set by someone else. But when going outside the box formed by the narrow line of horses was the only way progress could be resumed, Dusty had no hesitation in doing so.

Dusty and I became very good friends that week.

David B. Wolfe
Principal, Wolfe Resources Group
11525 Hearthstone Ct.
Reston, VA 20191