From Kate McCloskey:
I would trust Autumn, Lisa and the entire Scattered Acres team with my horse’s 24/7/365 care… which is exactly what I did when work took me away for a year. I knew that I was leaving my mare in the best possible care and that they would look after her as if she was their own. I never once worried about her and received regular updates from the team while I was gone.
I kept her in full time training with Autumn while I was gone and I came home to a completely different horse. My mare was known to be a bit lazy and to refuse jumps, but she is now finally confident! This was a huge development. In addition, my mare’s dressage is refined and smooth and she is now helping teach me how to improve my riding. On top of this, Autumn and my mare not only qualified for the 2019 American Eventing Championships, they were also the 2019 Area II Beginner Novice Reserve Champions. I couldn’t be happier with how Autumn brought her along.
Lessons with Autumn are top notch. She always has a solid plan for each lesson and makes sure they are tailored to her students. Even in a group lesson setting, she ensures she can help each student focus on what they individually need to work on. I can’t count the number of times I have left her lessons with a huge smile on my face.
I have boarded at many barns in northern Virginia over the years, and none can match the professionalism, thoroughness, and complete care that the Scattered Acres team provides. They know each horse and their personalities and notice right away if something is out of place. If herd dynamics aren’t working, they figure out how to change it up. Autumn and Lisa have always selected the highest caliber of working students who are knowledgeable, proactive, and a joy to be around. The facility is beautiful and extremely well-maintained. The stalls are large and airy and each boarder is provided with their own (large) tack locker. In addition, the community at the barn is welcoming, fun, and feels like an extended family. The other boarders are very supportive of each other and—outside of COVID times—will even show up at competitions to cheer on their barn mates.
I highly recommend Scattered Acres and hope you consider joining us!
From a former Working Student:
My experience at Scattered Acres was one that will always be with me. Not only did I get my dream of being around horses every day, but I learned an immense amount. Learning and growing is very important to me, and I very quickly realized that helping others to learn and grow is one of Autumn’s passions. Autumn knows that real growth and development does not come easily, you have to work for it. And she will help you to do just that. The more work you put into an experience, the more you will get out of it.
What is so unique about working with Autumn is that what you will learn is not just about the horses. The growth you experience is not just as a horseperson. Autumn has so much to offer, and really cares what it is that you want to learn. There are so many roles she fills (business owner, rider, coach, trainer, etc.) that give her an incredible amount of knowledge to share. It is also extremely inspiring to see how hard she works, and how much effort she puts into everything she does.
Scattered Acres really is a family and team, from the workers to the clients. You will be welcomed by many smiling faces. I came from a very different life in Manhattan without even knowing how to drive, and everyone made sure I felt safe and taken care of. Feeling the love and support of everyone at Scattered Acres made it such an amazing experience. It was incredible to hear other riders commenting on how much I was progressing.
Working with others who have a strong work ethic was also a great part of the experience. Knowing that everyone has each other’s back and will put in the work to get things done. Lisa especially was always there to jump in and make sure everything was running smoothly.
Thank you Autumn, for seeing the potential in me and giving me this opportunity. Lisa, thank you for being so patient with me and teaching me so much. Thank you for going beyond your role of barn manager and making sure I was always safe and comfortable (city girls don’t know what to do about tornado warnings haha). Thank you to everyone at Scattered Acres for an incredible experience that will always be in heart. I miss you all!
From Natalie Higgs:
Autumn Rae is on-point, well spoken, enthusiastic and expressive! She is a fantastic trainer and coach! Not only is she genuine, she is consistent with her attention to detail and her training never waivers. Even more impressive, she is an avid competitor and a mentor to the riders at the barn.
Autumn coaches my girls several days a week. Her posture and tone in her lessons is clear and on point. She explains things in a manner that allows my girls to fully understand every little detail. My girls absolutely love working with her!
We also have an Arabian mare named “Little Bit”. She is in training with Autumn. After an assessment, Autumn started with the basics to see how Little Bit responded to certain things. After working with her for several months, Little Bit is so much more confident and willing to please.
We love this barn, not only for the training and what my girls are learning, but also for the people that ride here and the staff. Attention to detail is so important when it comes to care for horses. It is comforting to know that someone is always on site and the horses are looked after 24/7. Their feet are picked twice a day, their blankets changed in the morning and evenings as needed, they are fed twice a day and if there is ever an issue, we are contacted immediately.
From Sherry Upton:
“Gillian came to Scattered Acres in the fall of 2015 for riding lessons. After her first lesson we both fell in love with the entire place. The place is clean and maintained above any other barn we’ve seen in the area. The lesson horses are not typical lesson horses. They are top-notch horses who are educated and lively. The staff is very helpful, educated, and understanding. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and places and bring with them different experiences and lessons learned that they share with you.”
“Autumn is the most patient, educated, devoted and overall wonderful instructor we have come across. She does not come off as if she knows everything at all, and continues her education and shares the new information. She not only educates the student but the parents also. Autumn has gone above and beyond quite a few times in Gillian’s lessons. She does not stop the lesson on a bad note with the rider or the horse even if your lesson time is over, the task needs to be met by both rider and horse.”
“In late March 2016, I purchased “Apex” a retired off the track Tb gelding and was able to move him to Scattered Acres in May. Autumn must have thought I completely lost my mind when we unload this 16.3 skinny horse with his head up like a giraffe off the trailer…but he is a character and absolutely loves Gillian. Owning a Thoroughbred has been a complete new world for us and I don’t think I would have been able to get this far without Autumn and her staff! I do not know of anyone that could keep up with Lisa, the barn manager. She is constantly on the move and all of her efforts show in the maintenance of the facility and the condition of the horses. Honestly we can not say enough about the Scattered Acres facility and staff – they have become part of our family.”
From Rachel Strein:
“I had already ridden for over 15 years when I found Autumn Rae and in just over 3 years she helped me accomplish more than I had thought possible. In my first lesson, she asked me about my goals, which were simple but also the same ones I had for all those previous years. “Become a more skilled rider, compete in some entry level events, and if it’s going well, buy my own horse to work with”. She brightly answered, “well that doesn’t seem too hard!” With that, she set the tone and I was competing within the year on a leased lesson horse. Within 2 years I was ready for my own horse and with Autumn’s astute guidance, I avoided many horse purchasing mistakes and found my match, Joey, a young Ex racehorse. Over the last 3 years, Autumn has guided the two of us, focused on training my riding to be educational to the horse. Whenever she works with Joey directly, his training leaps ahead, and his education then helps me along. Autumn’s uncanny read of both horse and rider is remarkable. She is fair and firm and leads by example. Joey has presented us both with a variety of training questions and Autumn uses her depth of experience, her horsemanship, and an open mind to work through these challenges. She has helped develop my thinking on how to assess a horse and how to teach them. She makes sure you have grasped concepts and can apply them on your own.”
“Autumn is also invaluable as a coach in competition and again seems to know just what to say to hone in on the key elements of a winning round. Autumn was coaching me on our move up to Novice. I was extremely nervous as I headed to cross country and told her I needed her to say something to keep me on point, i.e. Not panicking. She listened and responded with the key aspect we had been working on in practice, to allow Joey to go to the jump without interfering with my hands. Simple, straight forward and calm. Go and do. Or as I like to interpret her, ‘Ride that horse like I told you to.’ We had a clear round and it was one of the most thrilling achievements in my life. “
“Just this past year, Joey and I completed Novice at the American Eventing Championships and placed first in recognized Novice Division at the Maryland Horse Trials. This was a significant accomplishment as Joey started off our relationship as a reluctant cross country partner. I can’t say enough about my excitement over his progress and my gratitude for Autumn’s talents. I consider myself extremely lucky to be part of her Scattered Acres family. And I tell Joey every day that he is one lucky horse!”
From the Bruckers Family:
“Autumn has a rare gift. She not only has a “horse whisperer” understanding of horses, but she is an equally gifted trainer. Our daughter has been riding with Autumn for a year and a half. She had been at another barn for two years and was making steady progress. We lucked into meeting Autumn when dropping off one of my daughter’s friends for a lesson. We stayed to watch, and we were both hooked. Autumn is a very positive, encouraging and safe trainer who is able to bring out your best capabilities. Autumn takes a personal interest in each of her students to find out their goals, and works closely with them to achieve them. Because she is an excellent rider herself, she is able to teach and explain how to improve in ways that are easy to understand and execute. What is also impressive bout Autumn is how she manages the Scattered Acres barn. She takes the time to teach the proper care of the horses – both physically and mentally. Because of that, her lesson horses are the best you will find. And the other riders at the barn are equally dedicated, knowledgeable and kind. Autumn also helped us buy a horse. She is well connected within the community and found the perfect match for our daughter. She has helped our daughter improve her riding skills so quickly, she is competing this Spring. We are thrilled!!!”
From Mary Fox:
“I have known Autumn Rae for 7 years, first as my daughter’s trainer then as my own. When I first met Autumn I was impressed with her professional manner. I continue to find more things about Autumn to be impressed with. She has brought my daughter from a not very confident rider to a confident Novice level eventer. Autumn’s coaching inspires her students to reach their goals. Her ability to coach at many levels allows her to coach beginners such as myself all the way up to high level Hunter-Jumpers and Eventers. One thing stands out about Autumn and the Scattered Acres Team at shows; they are unfailingly polite and always encouraging of each other and folks around them. The Scattered Acres team is the go to trailer for someone who has forgotten some item like a boot pull or a girth. Autumn teaches that in being competitive does not have to be unfriendly. Autumn practices unfailing politeness and graciousness and that rubs off on students and parents alike.”
“Autumn has shepherded me through the purchase of 2 horses. Her horse sense and extensive knowledge was invaluable in both of those purchases. Autumn’s common sense approach to horse training fuses many well known methods together. She has the knowledge to devise a training plan that works for each specific animal and rider. Her uncanny knack for knowing what makes a specific horse tick coupled with her vast background of knowledge regarding horse husbandry makes her a very talented trainer.”
“I would recommend Autumn for any level and type of riding. She can teach everything from Western to Hunters to Eventers and Dressage. I am always available to speak to anyone regarding Autumn and her many varied abilities regarding riding, horse care, boarding and training.”
From Terese Colling:
“I quit riding 30 years ago. Autumn is the reason I started riding again. Period. She gave me the confidence to take up a sport I loved as a child and lost along the way of hectic work schedules and raising a family. She made me realize I was not too old to begin again. Riding again with Autumn’s gentle tutoring has brought me enormous joy and peace – so much so that Autumn is now doing a fantastic job finding me a horse to buy! She is meticulously combing the market to find a perfect match for me. I truly can’t believe it – me owning a horse again at my age. Autumn is simply a gifted instructor and horse woman. She never makes you feel pressured or inadequate. She makes you feel capable and able to do anything, bringing out the best in anyone who is fortunate enough to work with her. Please feel free to call me if you want to talk about Autumn—she won’t let me write anymore!!!”
From Rikki Pollack, ARM, HCCP:
“My daughter is 9 and had been riding for several years before transferring to Scattered Acres. We were so impressed with the quality of ponies and horses Autumn has to offer. Autumn was selective choosing a pony that would match my daughter’s personality and riding ability. Autumn is a hands-on instructor who teaches in the middle of the ring always watching closely and providing the girls with confidence and positive feedback as they learn. Her experience and knowledge of horses is so impressive. My daughter always wants extra lessons and Autumn is always able to accommodate us. We love Scattered Acres and plan to ride here for many years to come.”
From the Ellis Family:
“My 1 daughter has been riding with Autumn for 7 years, the other for 4 years, and Autumn is an incredible riding teacher and mentor. She works well with all different personalities, and teaches English riding and good horsemanship. In the eventing arena, Autumn maintains calm and focus, and encourages the rider to perform at their personal best. She’s the best teacher you’ll ever have!”
From Carolyn Pitches:
“My daughter has been riding with Autumn since she was 4 years old. Autumn Rae is an experienced and inspiring instructor. She has provided my daughter with excellent training and confidence boosting encouragement. Autumn truly loves what she does and it shows in her teaching. My daughter’s favorite day of the week is ‘riding day’!”
From Sabre Schnitzer, Our Scattered Acres Journey:
“Daughters… A Father’s Kryptonite. Had I had sons, I would have spent my time playing catch and buying them new cleats. But I had daughters and when my eldest was 6 months old, she looked up at me from her crib with those big eyes and a face that said, ‘You aren’t in charge anymore so just deal with it.” So, my story begins…
“Watch that first step, it’s a steep cliff,” Fate said to me.
When my eldest daughter Allyssa was six years old, she looked me with those puppy dog eyes and asked, “Daddy, can ride a horse?” Having not yet learned the ability to say no to either of my daughters, I said, “Get your boots on and get in the car.” We were living in N.C. outside of Cherry Point Air Station and, as luck would have it, there was a stables 3 miles down the road. After the first ride, I knew she was hooked, but didn’t understand the depth and value of the journey I would undertake with her until many years later. She rode there for 2 years under 4 different instructors that had her walk, change direction, trot, change direction, walk, change direction, trot change direction for 45 minutes each lesson. When the stable was on its last legs, we moved to a different stable across town where the instruction was better but advancement was slow.
Following my wife’s retirement from the Marine Corps, we were finally able to move back to Virginia and settle down after 20 years of moving every 2 years. Shortly after our arrival, my daughter’s riding itch resurfaced. Crisswood Stables was two miles down the road so we started taking lessons there. However, it quickly became obvious that the quality of instruction was lacking since all that my daughter was instructed to do was walk, change direction, trot, change direction, walk, change direction, trot, change direction. After the instructor missed our first private lesson, I was done with Crisswood.
“It’s time we speed things up a bit,” Fate laughed.
Later that night after calming my daughter’s tears, I went home and did a Google Maps search for “horse riding lessons near me.” The ONLY stables that came up within a 50-mile radius of my residence in southern Manassas was Scattered Acres so we made plans to go visit the sables the following day.
Upon arriving at Scattered Acres, it looked unimposing as we drove down the driveway but the true nature of the farm became apparent as soon as we rounded the corner behind the main residence and saw the barn. Upon parking, we were greeted by two huge Great Danes who wanted nothing less than our full attention. We knew right then and there that this would be our stables. As we walked to the barn, we were greeted by several riders and horses that looked to be in their prime. As we headed towards the outdoor riding ring, we were greeted by a gorgeous Siberian Husky who lead us out to the ring. Once there we met Autumn Rae, the owner and lead instructor. She greeted us openly and following her lesson, gave us the tour and answered all our questions. We immediately signed the release forms and scheduled lesson time.
“Too late…” Fate said grinning.
That night, I re-Googled “horse riding lessons near me” on Google Maps and was greeted with dozens of stables within a 30-mile radius. However, the decision had already been made.
Three years have passed since my daughter started training under Autumn and to say that it has been a wonderful and enlightening experience would be a vast understatement. My daughter rode for a year on Autumn’s lesson horses making significant progress and having a great time. However, it wasn’t until Autumn came up to me and said, “She’s made great progress but would do better on her own horse,” that I realized how slippery this slope was and how deeply I was committed to her riding and continued enjoyment. That night I tossed out the idea of a new kitchen for my wife and started looking for competition horses. I asked Autumn to help us with the search and put her under contract. Autumn’s mentoring during the search and subsequent purchase was invaluable as we looked at 5 horses that on the surface looked great, but simply didn’t have the right skill set, temperament or overall good health that my daughter needed to compete in eventing. Nevertheless, within 3 months and many visits to other stables in the dead of winter, my daughter is now the proud owner of her own eventing mare, Cricket. Autumn accompanied us to the purchase and her barn manager Lisa drove us all home with Cricket in the trailer. My daughter is now thoroughly excited about riding at every opportunity and has since made it to the Beginner Novice level at recognized events having placed at the last three competitions. Watching her confidence and stamina increase has been remarkable. Whereas she was once one of many beginner riders at Scattered Acres, she is now looked up to by the other young riders of what can happen when you put forth the required amount of time, energy and dedication.
Autumn and the other members of the Scattered Acres team are all great people and a pleasure to be around and learn from. The facility has seen remarkable improvements over the three years that we have been there. The indoor riding ring is exceptional and a welcome addition to when it is snowing outside. The boarding is also remarkable. (The XC and Stadium jumps are the best that I’ve ever seen. 🙂 We have never once questioned the quality of care that Autumn and Lisa give to the horses under their care. Many times, I ask for their advice when trying new equipment or what type of care we should provide for Cricket.
All in all, the atmosphere at Scattered Acres is such a welcome experience after spending a day in the office and fighting D.C. traffic. My daughter and I consider it our “happy place” and spend every available moment there. The clientele is a diverse collection of similarly focused riders and parents all with a helping hand attitude and good nature. The people of Scattered Acres make the whole experience so much more enjoyable. As competition season comes to an end I can look back at the dozens of the competitions where the Scattered Acres riders were cheering each other on, consoling during bad times and celebrating during the many wins and placings that were achieved. Watching my daughter advance from weekly lessons, to her first competition at the introductory level to her first unrecognized beginner novice competition to her more recent recognized competitions has been nothing less than completely fulfilling. Even during one competition where Cricket refused a stadium jump and my daughter fell to the ground, I was beyond proud to see her stand up, brush herself off and double down on her training. At the next recognized competition, she placed 3rd after having a flawless stadium and cross country run. She was smiling from ear-to-ear for days after that one.
Many parents live vicariously through their children. With horse riding, there is little a parent can do but provide the opportunity to succeed. While the horse ownership route is costly, and even more so when walking the competition route, when you are a parent hoping to give the best they can to their children, this road that I have walked is one that I don’t regret a single second. My daughter has become a strong and confident teenager who will take charge of her life and not accept anything less than her best effort. And while my wife still doesn’t have that new kitchen, Cricket is getting a new custom saddle because a father has to have priorities.
We would have never gotten to this point without Autumn’s mentoring. It has been one of the most difficult but most rewarding experiences of my life watching my daughter overcome her own fears and succeed at levels I never imagined at the start.
As my daughter looks forward to a winter of hard training and a next season goal of placing at a recognized novice level competitions, I can only thank Autumn and the rest of the Scattered Acres team for allowing us to experience this wonderful sport and all that it has to offer. I continue to look forward to spending countless days out at the farm watching my daughter build her confidence levels and avoid all boys until she is well over 30 years of age when I can finally cut strings and finally get that new kitchen for my wife. But until then, Cricket needs a new blanket.
If you would like to submit a testimonial, please contact the Scattered Acres staff at the email below.