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Whitehead (center) and her parents Hunt (left) and Michelle Chiocca (right).

CHATHAM, Va. — Annabele Whitehead is heading to Southern Methodist University (SMU), signing her letter of intent on Monday at Chatham Hall.

Whitehead is going to the National Collegiate Equestrian roster to compete in horse shows.

However, her background in horses goes back much further. She began riding at the age of six and attended multiple Chatham Hall summer riding camps prior to enrolling. She is a four-year member of the International Equestrain Association (IEA) team and won Regionals on the Flat all four years. As a sophomore, she qualified for the IEA Nationals over fences, and as a junior, qualified for the IEA Zone Finals, but was unable to compete to the event’s cancelation because of COVID.

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Annabele Whitehead signs her letter of intent to SMU.

During summers, Whitehead has been trained by Sulu Rose-Reed of Richmond and rides her own horse, Imperio. In 2020, she won the Virginia Horse Show Association (VHSA) year-end Equitation Championships at the Lexington Horse Show, the VHSA Junior Equitation Championship on the Flat and the VHSA Junior Hunt Seat Medal. In 2021, she won the Bryan Equitation Trophy as well as the USHJA Zone 3 Equitation Championship. She also qualified for and competed at the USEF National Finals in Pennsylvania in 2021 and at the Maclay Finals in 2020 and 2021.

Chatham Hall’s IEA coach Frankie Beyer said, “Working with Annabele over the last four years has been an absolute pleasure. She comes to every ride with a willingness to work hard and dedicate herself to improving her skills. Not only is Annabele a fierce competitor, but she is also a dedicated teammate, cheering on those around her with her positive attitude.”

Staff Writer

Zach McKnight joined the Star-Tribune from Wadsworth, Ohio, as a staff writer. Zach earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

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