Ranching Heritage Breeder: Sparrowk Livestock
Ranching Heritage Breeder: Sparrowk Livestock
By Andrea Caudill
Sparrowk Livestock is a relatively new AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder, having been accepted in 2018, but for decades they have been raising good cattle and the good horses they need to work them.
Jack and Beverly Sparrowk’s operation is headquartered in Clements, California, but its reach spans several states.
Jack got into the cattle business right out of college, and purchased his first ranch in 1972. He married Beverly in 1978, and they and their family raise cattle and the horses they need to work them on land scattered throughout northern California and southern Oregon.
They raise an Angus-based herd of commercial cattle on their scattered properties.
“We move a lot of cattle around,” Beverly says. “And that’s why we need a lot of horses. We do almost all of our cattle work on horseback.”
Their cowboys all need at least three horses per string, and the Sparrowks were struggling to find enough horses to outfit them, so they started breeding their own in the late 1970s. They keep a small band of mares, breeding an average of five to 10 foals per year.
Their bloodlines include a mix of classic cow and running blood, but their focus has always been on producing the kind of individuals they need – a free-traveling horse that can get the work done … and who maybe could serve as a team roping horse on the weekends.
“We’re very focused on raising nice, gentle horses that will work well on a ranch,” Beverly says. “We like good travelers, everyone wants to ride the ones that will cover country, take you where you need to go and get the job done when you get there. So that’s basically what we’re looking for. We’re not real hung up on any one breeding.”
Among their herd sires over the years are Gay Bar King son Long Live The King; Flit Bar-bred Scottish Bar Flit; the Dry Doc son Docs Vintage; the Smart Little Lena son Fairly Smart; and White Lighting Ike-bred Ikes Got The Cash.
Their mares are pasture bred and foal outside, with the babies growing up in pastures that have both rolling meadows and steep, rocky, brushy surfaces to learn how to use themselves.
“It gives the colts an opportunity to figure out how to get around in different kinds of country when they’re babies,” Beverly says. “Then they’re acclimated to that when they’re older and they need to go to work.”
Young horseman Quentin Anseth, the son of one of their ranch managers, starts all their horses as 2-year-olds, then the horses are turned back out, then brought back in and used lightly at 3, before they go to work full time as 4-year-olds.
While Sparrowk Livestock typically only has a few horses available for sale at any given time, they do sell both prospects and horses of riding age through word of mouth and periodic sale consignments.
While the focus for their horses is ranching, many of them also serve as top-quality team roping horses. Jack at age 80 is still a competitive team roper, and other cowboys on the ranch also enjoy the sport.
The Sparrowks have received countless awards for their work in the cattle industry. Jack has been a leader in state and national cattle associations and is in the San Joaquin County Agriculture Hall of Fame. Beverly too is very active as a leader, and was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 2008 for her history in rodeo, performance and as a rancher.
A champion barrel racer, Beverly toured North America as a trick rider for almost a decade, performing daring vaults and stunts like the Cossack drag, which put her head close to the ground and the horse’s flying hooves.
She now competes in AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse events, and attending the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships is where she settled on joining the Ranching Heritage Breeder program.
“I stayed and watched the Ranching Heritage classes, and just really, really liked the horses I saw there,” she says. “I liked the idea of the program, and thought it was a good niche for people in the cattle business that raise horses, not people primarily in the horse business. I related to that, that fit where we were coming from. That’s how I got interested in it.“
The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder program highlights working cattle ranches that breed high-quality American Quarter Horses primarily for ranch work. Horses bred by these ranches are given unique opportunities through Ranching Heritage competitions open only to these horses. For more information, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.