By Shelley L. Patterson
As published in The Vanner, Official 2013 Publication of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society
Joe Mangravito is a horse trainer certified in the John Lyons method of Gentle Persuasion. He “fixes” horses. Recently, Joe received a call from a woman asking for help with her horse that had six trainers within a year. The last had her ankle shattered and they advised her “to get rid of the horse.” Joe changed the horses life in one lesson. He plans to bring that knowledge and experience to the Gypsy Vanner World.
Joe Mangravito retired from the New York Fire Department in 1990 and decided to turn a passion into a career. Joe took his years of experience on a Montana horse ranch, his studies of animal behavior, and his devotion to the methods of horse training developed by John Lyons to become a horse trainer specializing in Gypsy Vanners. Joe continues to save and change lives but in a different way.
Joe has an almost supernatural ability to fix problems that horses have had for years. He has helped many horse owners that have been told their horse could not be trained. Joe has worked all over the world with a variety of breeds but he has found that Gypsy Vanner horses respond even greater to gentle handling, including the stallions that he has trained and started. In regards to his training philosophy, Joe says, “Any horse with any problem can be worked with effectively in a gentle way...the key is not to break the horse’s spirit, but rather to become part of it. My goal is to take my ability to understand and communicate with the horses and show the owner how to do the same. Helping the owner and the horse to understand each other and to subsequently see the deepening of their relationship brings me great joy.”
In 2011, Joe discovered an even greater joy as he began donating his services to the South Florida SPCA, a horse rescue in Miami, Florida. Joe was the trainer of an equine rehabilitation team organized by Shelley Patterson, Volunteer Director of the organization from 2007 to 2012. Joe trained the rescued horses and more importantly, taught the volunteers to safely work with and handle the horses who had suffered abuse, abandonment and neglect. Joe says, “These were some of the most traumatized horses I had met. Many of them were thought to be unfixable. It was my favorite and most rewarding place to work.” Joe’s generosity, knowledge, experience, confidence and compassion were a positive influence on everyone at the organization which greatly improved the welfare of the horses and saved several lives.
Although the rehabilitation team left the organization in November 2012, Joe continues to meet with its members at his home, A Perfect Horse Ranch, on a monthly basis. Joe teaches the team to work with troubled horses and to understand the principles of the John Lyon’s method of Gentle Persuasion. The members use these skills in various non-profit programs and with other horses to continue spreading these gentle techniques and to become a positive influence for other horse owners.
The team’s favorite training horse is Joe’s Gypsy Vanner, Tali’s Royal Ronan (a.k.a. Ronan). Ronan has been beneficial to the training program because anyone can work with him regardless of their experience or skill level.
Joe has trained many breeds of horses in a variety of disciplines from pleasure to Grand Prix. The owners would always claim that their breed was the best or the smartest but he found that all of the breeds were about the same until he started working with Gypsy Vanner horses. Joe claims that their disposition and demeanor are clearly different than that of other breeds. He says, “Working with Gypsy Vanners has been an enlightening experience. Although I find every horse enjoyable to work with, I have developed a special love for these horses.”
Joe was introduced to Gypsy Vanner horses by a gentleman who requested one lesson for his horse. This man was adamant that he would not allow anyone to treat his horse harshly. He explained that he loved his horse and would sooner never show, or ride her, if it meant mistreating her. Understanding that he must have had prior bad experiences, Joe began working with the 2 year old filly who seemed not to have any training. He also noted how quickly she learned and the client watched in amazement. The client later mentioned that he had another trainer for a year, and that he did not achieve as much as Joe in that one session.
That Gypsy Vanner horse’s name is WR Sundance. Sundance brought Joe together with Gordon, Michelle and Amanda Muir. They are more than his clients, they are his friends, extended family and sometimes, his competition. After their first meeting, Joe began working with Sundance and the client’s 10-year-old daughter, Amanda Muir. Two months later, in her first show, Amanda and her 2 year-old filly, Sundance, were awarded 14 ribbons, 9 of them blue, all in hand. After that, Amanda showed at every feathered horse show she could find, and never received less than 18 ribbons. At the National Feathered Horse Show she was awarded 24 ribbons, and won youth high point of the year for two consecutive years.
As rewarding as the ribbons are, Joe states that they don’t compare to the happiness that Sundance has brought him. Joe says, “When I look into Sundance’s eyes, I am sure she knows what she has given to me. I have worked with a lot of Gypsy Vanner horses, but Sundance will always have a special place in my heart.”
Joe’s goal is to promote Gypsy Vanners so others can experience the joy and satisfaction that this special breed has brought to him. As a trainer, Joe plans to use Gypsy Vanner horses to teach horse owners about Gentle Persuasion and that these positive and gentle training techniques can be used successfully. Joe states, “There is not a contraption in the world or any harsh method that can get a horse to do what we can do with a snaffle bit or a halter, and in a fraction of the time.” Joe states that this method has always worked with every horse he has encountered, including the traumatized horses at the SPCA. Joe proposes that horse owners and trainers abandon shank chains, harsh bits and striking or hitting a horse to achieve goals and replace them with snaffle bits and Gentle Persuasion training. If Joe is as successful in replacing these unwanted human behaviors with wanted behaviors, as he is in applying that technique to horses, it will be a better world for all.
Joe offers free clinics at his home, A Perfect Horse Ranch, in [Loxahatchee], Florida. Joe trains horses in a variety of disciplines. He offers a certification program for horse trainers and private lessons to help horse owners learn to work with their horses in a gentle, effective and satisfying manner. Joe often offers free clinics the day before feathered horse shows to help share this gentle training and to teach people that harsh methods are not necessary with these, or any, horses.
A Perfect Horse Ranch
20363 Antoinette Road
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
954 599-7272 954 599-7272
Trainer Certification Program, 2-Weeks
at A Perfect Horse Ranch
20363 Antoinette Road
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
Town-Crier Online 5/20/16
Joe Mangravito Planning Another Training Clinic
by Ellen Rosenberg