Teacher takes animals under wing

Catherine Liu, Staff Writer

While dogs and cats are typical family pets, Diamond Bar High School history teacher Ty Watkins strays from the traditional, raising two horses right in his backyard. Watkins also owns nine chickens, three dogs, two cats, three birds and ten fish.

Watkins said that the adoption of his two horses, Maverick and Mavis, was something that he and his wife, Michelle, were planning to do after moving into their new house in Mira Loma last year. Michelle, who raised a horse when she was younger, brought up the idea of raising a horse, and has always been involved with rescue organizations that hold auctions, fundraisers and announce the availability of horses.

“We got them a lot sooner than anticipated because they were rescue horses,” Watkins said. “They were going to be destroyed or sent to Japan as food.”

Watkins adopted two six-month-old rescue horses from HiCaliber Horse Rescue last October. The teacher keeps the horses in stables located in the backyard, big enough for a pool, a grassy area and a section to house the stables and chicken coop.

“Many homes around us do have horses. Some have goats and chickens so we do have area, but we don’t have farms. It’s a little bit more of homes that just have larger lots,” Watkins said.

With his nine chickens, Watkins shares the collected eggs amongst his neighbors, colleagues and friends. He and Michelle split chores required for taking care of the animals, and he spends about an hour feeding all the animals and cleaning up after them, ranging from changing the litter boxes to cleaning the pens. He dedicates more time on the weekend with his family to groom the horses, either washing them or rubbing them down depending on the temperature.

“It’s a lot more work than I expected but it’s very therapeutic,” Watkins said.

Currently, Watkins and his family take the horses on walks on the neighborhood’s dirt horse paths as the horses are still too young to be ridden.

He and his wife have also been training the horses to be more controlled and calm during the walks and are currently planning to install a circle pen in their yard to train the horses.

In addition to taking care of the horses, Watkins has built the various structures outside his house, such as stables, chicken coop, shed and a barbeque grill area. He became interested in self-building through his DBHS colleague, PE equipment manager David Hernandez.

“Because it’s not my craft and it’s not my skill, it’s always been a bit of a challenge, but its awesome,” Watkins said.