Covert Action wasn’t much of a racehorse, but he has had the kind of impact on a man’s life that his grandsire, Secretariat, had on many lives: life-changing.
After six years of aimless existence in prison, Tamio, 32, was still convinced money was the only thing that mattered. Then he met the 14-year-old dark brown gelding.
The opportunity to work with horses transported Tamio to happy memories of growing up riding. That might have been enough, but there was more. The relationship with Covert Action brought surprising and wonderful changes in his attitude, as he freely admits.
“I know that Covert won a small amount of money, but the ultimate prize was winning the heart of a human being, teaching me that trust has to be earned through patience with each other. Money cannot compare to changing my life and the others that work with me.”
Tamio lists the gelding’s record: 26 races, three wins, a mere $22,000. “I asked myself, was it enough in his profession? Maybe not, but God did have another purpose for his life – to help and show me another way.
“Covert trusted me from the first week that he had come to this barn. It’s something I hadn’t expected to happen that fast. He’s taught me that we trust a man for the soul of him, not his outer appearance.”
So close are man and horse that Covert would follow Tamio without a lead rope. “We walk, we talk. Maybe he doesn’t talk back, but a part of me knows that he appreciates me and understands me. All I want to do is keep him safe.”
Tamio has been released and now has his own farrier business in Hanover County.
Covert Action is sponsored by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.
Leeanne Ladin and Kate Tweedy, co-authors of Secretariat’s Meadow, with Covert Action at one of his appearances.
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