Aussie Tough
Ariana Varischetti and “Reno” Survive Horrific Trailer Wreck, Tackle Rookie Race 1 Year Later

Ariana Varischetti left an Australian coal mining job to move 7,000 miles to the United States and rodeo, only to suffer a teeth-gritting truck-and-trailer wreck a few months later.

Ariana Varischetti and Reno topped a Go-Round at the 2024 Resistol Rookie Roundup in Fort Worth.
Ariana Varischetti and Reno topped a Go-Round at the 2024 Resistol Rookie Roundup in Fort Worth. Photo by Gale Miller

Australian Ariana Varischetti is making the most of her Resistol Rookie of the Year candidacy thanks to a fresh outlook on life following a jaw-dropping truck-and-trailer wreck in 2023.

Varischetti moved to the U.S. in April 2023 to work on filling her ProRodeo permit with horse “Reno.” After about a month living in the States, she was pulling out early one morning to head to the Mt. Pleasant Rodeo in Texas.

Ariana Varischetti was fortunate both she and her horse Reno walked away from this horrific wreck involving a semi truck in May 2023.
Ariana Varischetti was fortunate both she and her horse Reno walked away from this horrific wreck involving a semi truck in May 2023. Photo courtesy Varischetti.

“I got on the left side of the road, which is the Australian side,” Varischetti explained. “I came around the first corner and these lights were in front of me. It was dark, and I thought that driver [was on the wrong side]. But a second later I realized I was on their side.”

As the semi-truck bore down on Varischetti, she made a split-second decision to pull left into the guardrail.

“I didn’t want to cut right because he’d hit my trailer and kill Reno,” Varischetti said. “I hit the guardrail and shut my eyes. The semi driver swerved towards the center of the road, hit me in the middle and swiped my trailer. I don’t remember getting out. All I remember is standing there with the emergency personnel asking if Reno was O.K.”

Reno had been in the second slant of the trailer. The living quarters was crushed into the first slant, and Reno suffered a gash on his hip. But both he and Varischetti walked away.

“He loaded right back onto another trailer to be taken away,” Varischetti recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Varischetti was diagnosed with a severe concussion, but in true cowgirl fashion, continued to try to fill her ProRodeo permit. It was only after she succeeded that the concussion caught up to her.

“I had fluid at the base of my brain,” Varischetti said. “I had been practicing and was so dizzy I had to quit.”

Another CT scan confirmed her diagnosis, and she was on bed rest for two weeks. The remainder of the year was healing, working for The Brown Ranch, more rodeos and a decision to buy her ProRodeo card for 2024.

Ariana Varischetti’s Rookie year

Now, Varischetti is working on her Resistol Rookie Year astride Reno—a feat she says is Gods’ proof she should be here.

Currently sitting No. 9 in the Rookie standings with $4,457 won, she’s adapting to America’s seriously different rodeo setups quickly.  

@breakawayropingjournal Aussie Aussie Aussie 🇦🇺 Ariana Varischetti took the win in Round 1 with a 2.4-second run at the @resistol1927 ♬ Another Level – Oh The Larceny

“The scores, different setups and different calves everywhere you go has been really hard for me, because in Australia we have the same contractor at every rodeo, and there is barely any score,” Varischetti explained. “In Australia, some girls will go before the calf is even out. It’s been a big change to make over here—I’ve added probably two feet to my rope.”

It’s a change that Reno has been fighting with, too. Varischetti has been working on scoring with the 12-year-old gelding, since it’s something he hadn’t had to do in Australia. Yet, Varischetti knows she is exactly where she’s supposed to be.

Hauling with 2023 Resistol Rookie of the Year Braylee Shepherd and Sierra Sprat, Varischetti has her eye on the calendar. In April 2025 her leave of absence from her coal mining job in Australia runs out, where she was a drag line excavator operator. It’s a well-paying gig that Varischetti is already hesitant about returning to.

“It’s hard, you know?” Varischetti said with an Aussie drawl. “I would like to finish my rookie year out and go into horse training for futurities. Breakaway isn’t in the Thomas & Mack, and us Australians lose a lot of money coming over here with our dollar exchange, so I need to be smart.”

For now, Varischetti is wanting to rodeo “Quality over quantity.” She’s laser-focused on seeing her start to minimize broken barriers while staying aggressive.

Check out the WPRA’s latest Resistol Rookie Standings update here.

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