He did to the hackamore world what Casey Tibbs did for bronco riding. He changed the style. Tony added the finesse, lightness, and the supple feel that we all look for still. Even by today’s high standards, a hackamore horse trained by Tony is the epitome of perfection.
Tony’s parents were emigrants from Portugal who started a cattle and dairy ranch. Tony came from an era where snaffle bits were only used for work horses. Then, cow horses were ridden only a handful of times in a snaffle before moving quickly into a hakamore or “jaquima” as early California State Fair, which at the time was the largest show in the state. They made reserve champion and Tony was on his way to becoming one of the greatest horseman of all time.
Tony had become interested in the Hackamore horse. He learned from any man willing to share his knowledge, but in the end, he turned to the greatest showman of the reined horse of that era, Charlie Maggini, 1929 World Champion All-around Cowboy. Tony went on to train more champion hackamore horses than any other trainer of the Pacific Coast.
Tony was devoted to upgrading the horses and their styles. He was the Master hackamore man of his decade. He spread the California Bridle Horse and Hackamore tradition across the nation, making the East understand that there was a better way.
He set a record, which still stands today, by winning the Hackamore championship a three-year old, Docs Top Doli.
Tony made Supreme Quarter Horses, Honor Roll cow and reining horses. He has numerous AQHA champions, His horses became Super Horses at the AQHA World Show. He rode pleasure horses and produced rope horses. But his true love was the cow horse.
When the emphasis in reined cow horse competition shifted to snaffle bit futurities, Amaral readily adapted to the trend but never quit using a bosel. Tony believed that the bridle horse traditions are all but lost. He pointed out that the snaffle bit event did not derive from pure vaquero tradition and requires less skill, perhaps, than the true hackamore.
Tony passed away in a roping accident in 1998. But his memory lives on eternally in our hearts. And a little bit of Tony can still be seen in the horses we ride today, and the legacy he left behind.