THE countdown is on to the birth of the first foal this year at Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre.

One of the centre’s mares Cotebrook Loch Torridon is due to give birth on February 22, with another three mares to follow over the next few months.

All four foals have been fathered by Moorfield Edward, one of the most popular horses at the centre and one of the world’s most prolific stallions in terms of breeding show champions.

For visitors to keep up-to-date with all the mares’ progress the centre has launched Foalwatch 2013 – a video diary of the mares’ progress through pregnancy and hopefully capturing the births on film.

“Foaling is the most important thing we do at the centre as one of our main aims is preserving this native breed for the future,” said Janet King, who runs the centre with husband Alistair.

“This is a very exciting time for us and we want to share the experience with our visitors, which is why we have launched the Foalwatch videos – to give people the chance to see up close something they might not usually be able to.”

The Foalwatch videos are available to watch on Youtube:

Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre has bred some of the world’s top shire horses over the years.

It is a working stud farm and incorporates a beautiful country park where visitors can enjoy an abundance of wildlife – from badgers and owls to otters and red deer.

The centre is open to visitors all year round, daily between 10am and 5pm.