By Britney Grover
Tim Gaskell of Naples, Florida, fills various roles in the equine industry. Most famously, Tim is known as Tim the Clipper Guy because of his skill as a professional body clipper. As TAG Equine Services LLC, which he founded in 2016 also, Tim offers charter shipping, freelance grooming services and educational horsemanship seminars. When his business was deemed essential during the pandemic, Tim put his clipping skills to work in a 24-hour Clip-A-Thon to raise money for those affected by horse show shutdowns and barn capacity limitations through the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund — after ensuring fellow grooms and braiders would be eligible to apply for grants. Tim’s big goal for the first event was $10,000, which he met; less than six months later and with eight of the best clippers and grooms in the country helping, he held a second. To date, Tim has raised $22,000 — and the list of clippers and grooms on board for the 2021 Clip-A-Thon is growing.
How and when did you get involved with horses?
My birth was scheduled around my mother’s show season, so I was brought up in the horse barn. My family had Quarter Horses. My mom taught riding lessons and showed, and my dad was the farrier, rode the stallions and young horses, and we grew and baled our own hay.
How are you involved now?
I have three specific barns that I groom at shows for, and the rest of the horses are regulars of shipping and clipping. I do not own a horse currently but would love to again in the future. I treat every horse I work with like my own — I just don’t have to pay any of the bills, so it works out.
What inspired you to find a way to give back?
After the first week of shutdowns, my business was considered essential and I was in full work mode. In fact, I was even busier. I had a lightbulb moment when I was hauling horses (as that’s when I get all of my ideas) and decided that I was in a position to dedicate time, energy and money to help those that were affected by shutting down the horse shows. That’s when I called a good friend of mine and said, “Hey, I want to clip horses for 24 hours straight, raise a ton of money, call it a Clip-A-Thon, and figure out how to give it to people.”
How did you decide what to do?
Being Tim the Clipper Guy, I felt that this was really the only way to maximize my goal of raising the most money. My name had gotten national and some minimal international attention over the past few years, so clipping was the obvious choice. With only eight days to plan and make this happen, I just took to social media and made phone calls, and everyone agreed to pitch in and help me out.
What have you learned through what you’ve been doing?
I’ve learned that there’s an absolute sense of community within our industry, but I’ve also learned that there are a lot of things that need improving as well. The grooms were the ones that came together with nothing but our skills to help keep our industry moving. Every small business that I asked to help this event absolutely stepped up, whether they were struggling or not, for a common cause — though not one large business was able to help us.
The Clip-A-Thon was an idea I had while in my truck, and it has blown up into something that I never would have imagined. I now see this as something to bring awareness to the struggles within the industry by helping those working with racial inequalities and injustices, fair pay, continuing education, health and human services, and horsemanship, to help make the industry stronger and more inviting.
What challenges have you faced as you’ve done this, and how have you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge to personally overcome was thinking, Is this enough? For the first time in my life, I’m able to give back to an industry that has helped me in so many ways and has been in my life forever. Watching it struggle was — and still is — hard. So I just had to put my foot to the floor and run with it, knowing that if it helped one person, then I accomplished my goal — but I wanted to help more. I enlisted a very good friend of mine, Kayla Wright, and said, can you run the social media and teach me how to use Zoom? She agreed and went above and beyond talking with professional riders and small businesses to help put all of this together.
What would you like to tell others who want to do good in their community?
No matter how small or how big you can contribute, something is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be about money, because the biggest impact you have is by your actions. Help your fellow man, stand up for someone, be there for someone, share inspiring words. It can be as simple as bringing someone lunch. Sit and chat with someone, or walk and ask how they are doing. Volunteering at a rescue or shelter is great as well. Donate $5 to a fundraiser that you support, or heck, start a Clip-A-Thon or any type of fundraiser you want.
What are your goals?
Right now it’s one day at a time. The Clip-A-Thon will continue on and get bigger and better. Grooms have the power for change, and not only do we love our horses unconditionally, but we love our industry even more. The Clip-A-Thon is a group of people trying to do good. We currently have a rough draft of a letter to petition to get a Groom’s Association started in the U.S. to help make our dream a reality. We’re committed to growing our group and continuing to support our industry.
Follow Tim on Instagram @tim_the_clipper_guy or visit his website, tagequineservices.com .
Photos courtesy of Tim Gaskell