Maja Littorin comes monthly to work with our horses at Woikoski Feeling Hevospalvelukeskus, as well as her mother, Fanny Littorin. Maja is an equine physiotherapist and is the entrepreneur in a company Equisense.
Background; where do you live, family, hobbies, tell us something about your own ponies and horses? How did you get interested in horses?
I live in a small house in Skåne with my son Luca. We keep a few sheep, chickens and we are waiting for two pigs to arrive this summer. We also try to grow vegetables every year, sometimes more successfully than others. I would like us to be mainly self-sufficient.
We also have some horses called Blanka, Tocto and Pål. Blanka is a warmblood, who came to me from a client after falling and breaking her breastbone and was deemed unfit to ride. She is retired but we have an occasional ride out into the forest as she recovered well given a lot of time and care. Tocto is a six-year-old mustang. He is very intelligent and a lot of fun. I don't ride him much as I would like him to finish growing first (so we have another year or two). The last one, Pål, is an old Shetland pony who I originally got as a companion and he has stuck. He is a funny pony, makes me laugh a lot, but is unfortunately unsafe for children. However, Luca and Pål get along okay. He's just like a grumpy old man.
We also have cats and dogs as pets, and some guppies! Simply put, you can always find something to do or someone to hug at our home.
I got into horses by inheritance. My mum's side of the family are nearly all horse people. I had my first Shetland when I was very young, Robin. A black beauty! I got him on loan by strict instructions from my mother that I had to take care of him on my own. Mucking out when you struggled to even lift an empty shovel was tough. And I don't know how many times I tipped the wheelbarrow over every day on the way to the muckheap. When he returned to his owner I nonetheless cried bitterly, missing all the times he stood on my feet and wouldn't move.. Some time later, when I was eight, we moved to Åland and I didn't ride for a time, I don't remember why. I did start again and got my pony Tua at eleven. When I was twelve my mother had courses in horse massage and I had to attend them all. I can imagine how frustrating I was to all the adults asking them if they wanted help with the anatomy. I was as confident as only a child can be about knowledge. Now, as I've reached the age of 34, I have obviously gained a lot more, but the more I learn I am becoming increasingly aware of how much more there is to learn.
Education/work life: where did you study, when did you graduate, how’s your career development been, any changes in your work since you started?
I started my equine career as a groom at the age of 18. I worked in Germany for around a year before returning to England, where I had previously studied, and picked up horse massage at Axelssons school of massage in Stockholm. I graduated at 20 and have been in the business ever since, apart for a break when Luca was little. I have been very lucky to work with some of the best vets and physios/osteos/chiros/etc. in Europe and have gotten invaluable experience from them through the years. This has lead to a more comprehensive treatment, my treatments are not limited to massage. I have also done courses here and there when I've come across useful ones, including an equine science diploma. But I must say that the most fun one was a weekend course with Gillie Higgins in UK, she is very good at speaking. I may not have learnt a lot of new things, but it's always useful to brush up and see things from another person's perspective.
I'm currently doing a two year course in Traditional Chinese Medicine and osteopathy. Acupuncture is often useful and the previous course I've done on this subject was unfortunately, in my opinion, not comprehensive enough. I live learning (typo, but I actually do live learning as every day on the job I see some variation) and strive to develop throughout my career.
About your profession and studies now: What is the hardest/worst part of your job? What is the best thing/what makes you happy? What keeps you motivated?
Oh, the hardest.. That's tough because I truly love my job. I guess I should say travelling. I like that part though, but it can sometimes make you tired. I like that, in different countries, there are different views on how things should be done. It teaches you to think about your habits and to reconsider them. (The same is true for working in different disciplines, it keeps you from getting stuck on a narrow track.) I guess the worst part is asking for payment, it's never been a fun part for me. Another thing that can be really hard is when you see horses that are badly injured and in pain, or horses that are misunderstood. When they have injuries it is interesting, so good for my brain, but tough on the soul. But with both broken and sad horses I get to be a part of improving them and that makes it worthwhile.
Some of my favourite things I've already mentioned above, but my absolute favourite is when you've worked with a horse for some time and they are so happy when you come to see them. The communication you have and the way the horse appreciate it. I was called an interpreter by a client recently, she thought I translated how the horse was into human terms so she could improve the care and work. I guess that is part of my motivation, owners that try their very best.
Your future plans/aims?
I want to learn, as always. I am also considering creating some online course, but we will see..
As my son has started school I need to be present more at home (Sweden) and therefore need to start working here rather than only abroad. I definitely don't want to stop my travelling though. I'd like to go to more different countries (I think it's 12 so far) to work and see what I can learn there. I'd maybe like to go to the Olympics for work at some point, I've done the Europeans and the World Equestrian Games, so that's what's missing.
Otherwise, I want to carry on helping as I am. I'd like to spread knowledge. I'm glad I can be of help when they slip and strain themselves, or when they get repetitive strain issues. I'd love to not be needed but I have come to accept that that will never be the case.
Horses are amazing animals, and I'm grateful to have them in my life. To give back, just partly, of what I gain from their presence is a life goal for me.
Thank you for reading!
Best regards Heli and Maja.