Meet Tim Gaskell - Winner of the 2016 Shapley's Groom's Class!
Every year, for several year’s now, Shapley’s sponsors and hosts a series of Groom’s Classes at shows across the country. Shapley’s also sponsors numerous “Best Turned Out Awards” to be given to Top Grooms of horses in major competitions across the country. This year, at WEF, Shapley’s hosted two Groom’s Classes, each with prize money of $1,000 and dozens of amazing prizes. The second class of the season, held during Week 10 of WEF, was won by Tim Gaskell. I picked his brain for tidbits of wisdom for you.
I asked Tim how he got into grooming - we all have a different path!
TG - I was fortunate enough to be born into horses. My parents had Champion Quarter Horses in New Hampshire when I was very young. We moved to Kentucky when I was 8 years old. My mother worked for a Clydesdale team and I watched them constantly cleaning harnesses and grooming the team. When I was old enough to work (legally), I spent a few weekends with the Clydesdales. I soon got into Thoroughbreds and was able to learn a little bit about sales prep for the yearlings that went to Keeneland. My favorite times were the nights that I did foal watching. I would go in with the mares before they foaled out, and I would just spend hours brushing them out. Not only did it get them used to me being around, but it was easier to foal out a clean mare. In college I took a sales prep class where I was given a huge Grey Percheron named Molly. That year I learned about grey horses, and how much fun they are to clean and keep clean......so much fun......really. It was a good thing because now I take care of two grey jumpers. Then after college I got into Hunters and Jumpers and have been in this discipline for 5 years.
The gray EZ - who, if he's like most grays, is not always EZ to clean.
Tell us about the horse you brought to the Groom's Class!
TG - I brought my favorite hunter FlyBoy owned by Jenny Sutton and trained by Kelli Macdonald. His is ridden by Penny Lombardo, Bitsy Woods, Kelsey Ostberg, and Mrs. Sutton. He is an 8 yo Westphalian gelding. He came to the barn when I started 3 years ago and we have been close since day one. He has shown the Pre-greens, 3'and 3'3"", low adults, children's, junior's. He is an all around great horse with a personality like non other, yet is very stoic and proud and will put up with almost anything. His signature cute face always gets everyone's attention, even the judge's first comment was about his cute face. This was my 3rd time in the grooms class and have brought FlyBoy with me each time.
This is FlyBoy. Oh dear....
How did you get ready for the Groom's Class? Any "secrets" or special trick that you used?
TG - I don't think there are any secrets to grooming. Everyone has a favorite product or favorite grooming tool. I have a strict grooming regimen with my show horses along with their strict diets. Good ole fashion elbow grease, a grooming mitt, clean brushes and a clean stall. My only prep for the Groom’s Class was cleaning my tack twice that day instead of once.
Anyone you would like to thank back at the barn?
TG - Our amazing braider Dana Bordelueu who came out to braid my horse at the last minute and always has great advice and is always supportive. Also my favorite Vet Tech Colleen McTighe for helping me with my box and great advice.
What was in your grooming bag/tote/box? Any comments or questions from the judges?
TG - My grooming box had your usual brushes, wet/dry towel, hoof pick, mane comb, fly spray and hoof polish. I also carry extra ear plugs, first aid kit, pins, vet wrap, scissors, leather punch, ointment for scratches, chalk and the always favorite peppermints. The judges were impressed with a kit that I carry in case a horse pulls a shoe. It has a pad with sticky tape and padded gauze. I also carry an extra crop, a different size spur than what the rider is already wearing, hind boots and Polo wraps.
Were you nervous, sizing up the other horses, did you forget anything?
TG - Thankfully I did not forget anything. The class always makes me nervous. I am so meticulous with my horses that I care for, but I always know there is someone out there better than me. Horses from Reed Kessler's barn and Tori Colvin's barn looked absolutely stunning. Everyone’s horses looked amazing. That is our job. It is what we are there for. I really did not think I would be 1st. It is always an honor to be among fellow Grooms.
What's the best grooming tip that you have taught a horse trainer? What's a grooming tip that a horse trainer has taught you?
TG - Best tip that I received was how the buckles on a bridle should sit behind the horse's eye for a proper fit. Best tip I gave was how I pull a mane back instead of straight down.
Of course it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also ask Tim for his advice for fellow Grooms - especially for Grooms that may find themselves in bad working situations. It’s important for Grooms to stick together! What's your advice to a Groom that is in a position where their work environment is negative, illegal, sketchy?
TG - Leave. I know that sometimes that seems impossible, but you have to. Those people who treat their Grooms negatively have another thing coming. I do believe in Karma, and she is not very forgiving. They can do the work of the Grooms themselves, and then maybe they will keep their mouth shut when they realize how much we have to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
FlyBoy getting some special treatment - Grooms always cater to their horses.
Any other thoughts for Grooms and how to recognize everything that Grooms do?
TG - We are so so so proud of our horses. We work with them from sun up to sun down, every day, every night. Believe it or not we constantly think about the horses we care for. I think the Groom’s Classes should carry on in a larger fashion. I think every large money and high award class should have a best turned out award. I also want to say bravo to Mark Bellisimo for having money and recognition for the Grooms who win the big Grand Prix’s at his shows this year. I think it is a step in the right direction.
I think it needs to be around the big money classes. Grooms want the recognition. They want to show off the horses that they care for day in and day out. Do them at Grand Prix’s and Hunter Derbys at the beginning of the class. It boosts morale and quality of grooming not only at the show, but at the barn year round as well.
This is Caiman - a horse that Tim clips. You can find Tim on Facebook on his business page - Tim The Clipper Guy.
I must say - it’s only because of participants like Tim and sponsors like Shapley's that the Groom’s Classes happen! It takes a large amount of dollars and sponsors and behind the scenes folks to come together to support Grooms. The amount of awarness that is growing for Grooms as well as the many ways to honor and respect Grooms is growing - and maybe one day every single show will have one. Keep spreading the word!