Founded in 2019, Lightning Livestock is dedicated to the training and breeding of top-caliber bucking bulls. Based in Decatur, Alabama, we haul our bulls allover the country to PBR, IPRA, and SPRA events among others. In 2021 we started producing our own “Ride The Lightning” events with hopes of contributing to the growth of the rodeo industry as a whole, because here at Lightning Livestock we are firm believers that America needs more cowboys.
From all different ages, backgrounds, and corners of this great nation, but we are united through our passion for these animals, the sport of rodeo, and the cowboy lifestyle that we are blessed to live, day in and day out. Anyone involved in this type of work knows it’s not always easy, but it sure is worth it. From the feeding and maintenance to the paperwork and decision making, every person on our team is vital to the success of Lightning Livestock and dedicated to our animal athletes and the sport. Below you will meet our team— Lightning Livestock wouldn’t be possible without them.
J Sparks—the man behind the magic. He does it all, from running one of the nation’s most successful energy restoration management services to coaching little league football and baseball, he is capable of anything. We are thankful to have him as our boss man, friend, advisor, and leader. Magen spent a lot of time learning about the bull industry and when she convinced J to enter the bucking bull business, he dove in headfirst (per usual, the man doesn’t do anything halfway) but we are thankful that he did and that he provides us with the opportunity to do what we love. He is the one that makes it all happen, and without him none of this would be possible
Magen, also known as “Big Mama.” She’s the go-getter, doesn’t take no for an answer, business woman behind the operation. She’s fiercely protective of her people, and if you mess with one of us you mess with her—so just trust us and don’t do it. Magen grew up around the rodeo industry and is passionate about introducing the younger generations to the cowboy lifestyle. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, is always looking for ways to better herself and those around her, and we sure are thankful to have her in our corner every time we look back.
Meet Bailey Sparks, J’s right-hand man and son. While Bailey is typically operating heavy equipment and fixing everyone else’s mess ups, he is the first to offer a hand when we need help around here. Bailey is the oldest of the Sparks kids and sure enough keeps everyone else in line. Bailey is driven and smart and having him around makes things a lot easier. However, don’t ask him any animal’s name on the place—to him, they’re all Roscoe
The twelve-year-old going on thirty, Drake Sparks. He’s the troublemaker, and typically you can find him tearing up the gravel roads (or his dad’s front yard) in his beat-up stick-shift jeep or wreaking havoc on any and everybody. Or maybe sneaking away 14 hours on a road trip with Drew that he SWORE he got Mom and Dad’s permission to go on—maybe don’t bring that one up to either of them quite yet, it’s still fresh. However, he’s also better with mechanics than most certified ones and is always looking for ways to throw in around here. For those of you who knew Ross Hill, this is his prodigy and there is no doubt in our minds that Drake will go #ToTheTop.
Ayden Sparks… we really don’t have the words to describe this one. He’s goofy and will do anything for a laugh, but also has a kind heart and loves people big. If you’ve been around Ayden for longer than five minutes, you know that he’s either asking for McDonald’s or where Nick is, his partner-in-crime. Our Priefert horse walker didn’t have much use around here when Ayden became serious about riding horses—the boy can go through 15 of them in a span of two hours. Also don’t take your eyes off him for longer than .01 seconds unless you want to be looking for him for the next couple of hours, but minor details. Ayden is great help around here and we can’t wait to watch this little cowboy grow up and succeed in whatever event he chooses to pursue in rodeo. Or maybe all of them, which is quite likely
Charlee Kate, CK, our little princess. CK is the one who keeps everyone in line around here. She is sassy and stubborn, but how could you say no to a face as cute as that? As the youngest girl to four older brothers, you can bet she’s tough as nails. No, seriously. She makes her brothers cry daily. However, she’s also as sweet as they come and the only Sparks kid that we will let get away with anything. This little cowgirl is going to be quite the tyrant when she grows up, and we have no doubt she will be running us one day
Drew, Drewess, Boss man of the place. The grumpy old man at the ripe age of 28 keeps the place running… but only after two cups of coffee and a biscuit in the mornings. After a successful bull riding career, Drew has a deep passion for the sport of rodeo and the animal athletes, and it is evidently shown through his work ethic and determination to make Lightning Livestock the best it can be. He crosses his I’s and dots his T’s when it comes to managing the daily chores of the ranch, but is always found with O, his Australian shepherd/Pitbull mix sidekick. Drew’s loyalty to his people and the brand is unmatched and we couldn’t imagine this place without him. Even if he still hasn’t learned to put on matching shoes yet.
In true Nick Griffith fashion, he was a bit late for picture day, so this is him in his natural habitat. Nick rivals any horseman we have ever seen and keeps our equine athletes in stellar condition. We haven’t seen him back down from a challenge yet, whether it be busting a snorty, dappled up, 16 hand bronc, in the roping pen or putting the first rides on a colt, when it comes to these horses, we are convinced there is nothing he can’t do. That is, if you can find him. If you’re around us for longer than 3 seconds you will hear the question, “Where’s Nick?” Similar to Where’s Waldo, but ours is the cowboy version. “Nick adventures” are our favorite though—most don’t start til midnight and typically last until the sun comes up. You can always find him hooked up to a trailer with a saddled horse in tow, listening to “Wanna Be A Baller”, and inspiring the next generation of young ropers to push their limits to be successful.
Llewellyn South, the working woman on the ranch, can do it all. Coming from an equestrian background, she had a lot to learn around the ranch. Fast forward through a year of the painful learning curves and grueling Nick adventures, she’s become a true ranch hand and asset to Lightning Livestock. Whether it’s hands on labor, working with the horses, managing our social media accounts, marketing the Lightning Livestock brand, or handling the public relations aspect of the business, Llew has it covered. If she says she will get the job done, then she will. She can keep the guys in check and outwork most, all while wearing a smile and a messy bun.
Austin Beasley—or Weasley, as J fondly refers to him. Don’t answer his phone calls unless you’re ready to talk for the remainder of the day. Austin is loyal, he hustles, and we couldn’t produce our events without him. He is respected for his work ethic and ability to make things happen in the blink of an eye. Austin is willing to do what it takes to ensure that Lightning Livestock’s events are top-tier, and we are blessed to have him as a part of the team. Also ask him to sing you the dead skunk song—you might regret it though.
Willo—the one who makes this place go round. He is the first to the barn every morning, greeting each of us with a smile on his face and always says it’s a beautiful day. His drive is unmatched, and he is willing to do any task asked of him. He keeps a watchful eye over the animals and is the first to inform us of anything unusual. He is the unsung hero of our ranch, and we truly could not do it without him. Our favorite thing about Willo is his positive attitude. You can count on him to be the first to look for the bright side in a situation, and we are grateful to have him on this team.
Cutter Madison. He comes from a family with rich history in the rodeo industry, and we’re lucky to have him as a hand around here. Cutter started as a lineman with Sparks Energy (our sister company), and while he still helps them out on occasion, we prefer to have him around the ranch. Cutter is protective of his people and will go to the ends of the earth for them. He can do it all, from bulldogging zebu’s to throwing a mean right hook (ask Magen how that one feels) we sure love having this cowboy around to get a day’s work done and have some great entertainment in the process.
Chris Gelsinger—he’s the new guy around here, but his determination to succeed is admirable to all of us. Chris is the one that buttons things up at the end of each day. He never leaves a task incomplete and is always game to go the extra mile. When looking to hire a new hand around here, Drew had no hesitations when he told us about a guy he had met and kept in touch with from a bull riding school a few years back and that we needed him around this place. Drew was right. Chris is grounded and level-headed, and reminds us all constantly how blessed we are to be able to live this life.
Margaret—the younger of the South sisters around this place. She is creative and motivated as the manager of our Absaroka Western store in quaint Downtown Decatur. Margaret is always ready to pitch in when she’s needed, but maybe don’t ask her to hook up a trailer for you quite yet. She is goofy and fun, and you can always count on her for a laugh. Mar is always willing to learn something new to broaden her horizons, and her adventurous spirit is a breath of fresh air. Margaret is business savvy and smart, and we know she will do big things.