Foaling time is just around the corner, and it's important that your mare has good nutrition before the big day.

Adding supplements can help produce a healthy foal. A daily supplement of selenium and vitamin E is essential in this area. For some reason, the hay here is low on these two nutrients, particularly the selenium. The added selenium helps strengthen foals' legs while they are growing in the womb. Without it, foals can be born with crooked and knocked knees, particularly in the last trimester.

When we first bred horses, we didn't know about adding these supplements and had a baby that had to be splinted to correct its crooked front leg.

The selenium and vitamin E often can be purchased mixed together and isn’t that expensive. Only a scoop is needed daily until the mom gives birth. It’s a small price to pay so as not to have high vet bills later to straighten malformed legs.

The gestation period for a mare is about 11 months, 10 days or about 340 days. Sometimes it seems like forever, but while waiting, here are a few other things you can do to prepare:

• Keep the phone number of your vet posted nearby in case of emergency. Wrap the tail to keep it out of the way prior to and during foaling.

• Have liquid soap to wash the genitals and utter prior to foaling. Betadine should be available to put on the umbilical stump after the birth to reduce infection. A baby enema also should be on hand to administer to the newborn foal about 1-2 hours after birth to prevent meconium impaction. That's the first fecal material, which can be hard and difficult to pass for the new foal.

• Keep a plastic bag around to store the placenta until the vet can inspect it afterward. Your vet will be able to determine that it all was expelled to reduce any infections.

Most births come off without a hitch, and all you have to do is watch. It’s amazing how even maiden mares seem to know what to do, and how quickly the baby stands and nurses. These little extras just give owners something to do during the long wait time for the event.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association is hosting an event at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 28-29. For details go to pccha.com

Jill Barnes Nelson is a reporter for Tehachapi News and a horse lover. Send information on the horse community such as upcoming events, clinics, etc., or if you’ve won an award, contact her: jbnelson@tehachapinews.com or call 661-823-6374.

Equestrian Calendar

JANUARY

Jan. 28-29 – Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Event, South Point Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas.

APRIL

April 15-17-- ETI Corral 14, Denzel Cameron Memorial Spring Drive, Moonraker Ranch, Mojave, Katie Christman, 661-824-2609.

MAY

May 15-20 – ETI Corral 14, Lone Pine Drive, Norm Noftsier, 661-270-1161.

JUNE

June 17-19 – ETI Corral 14, Jim & Julie Porter Drive, Onyx, The Porters, 760-378-2222.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 16-18 – ETI Corral 14, Long Ears Ranch, Mojave, Mara Wada, 661-821-1217/ 760-822-8546.

NOVEMBER

Nov. 5-11 – ETI Corral 14, Death Valley Drive, Sue Martzolf, 760-662-6102.