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Grassland Ranch began offering services in 2006 and was founded, owned, and operated by Reitzel and Ginger Murphy. Since Grassland began every customer has been treated like they were a part of the family. In 2012 Andy Blalock and Mike Bednarski were very lucky to purchase Grasslands and take over operations as the new co-owners.
To provide our clients with a complete equine experience which includes horse boarding, equine care, and the most detailed and comprehensive riding lessons and training program in north Alabama. We will provide our students, boarders, and horses with a fun, safe, nurturing environment and we will strive to make Grassland Ranch a warm and welcoming experience for everyone.
Meet the Grassland Family
Owner/Operator: Andy Blalock
Andy is pictured here with his twin sister Sherri. Andy grew up on a small horse Farm near Collinwood, TN. He was raised by his parents Kevin and Donna with two wonderful sisters. From the time Andy was just a little boy he was interested in horses. Andy began barrel racing his horses when he was 10 years old with his Dad and two sisters.
Andy attended college at Northern Virginia Community College and University of North Alabama (UNA) in Florence, AL. He graduated from UNA in 2007 with a bachelors of science in Biology, and moved to Huntsville, AL where he began teaching for the Academy for Science and Foreign Language. He attended Mississippi State University for a Masters Degree in Biology. Andy currently remains as a teacher at ASFL and instructor at the ranch.
He began barrel racing with the National Barrel Horse Association in 2001 and is a 8-time World qualifier. He was the 2004 Triple P Arena pole-bending champion. He placed in the top 6 of round 1 in the 2007 TN NBHA state show, and was the 2011 TN IBRA State 4D champion. Andy won the AOHA Alabama Men's Barrel Racing Grand Champion for 2012 year on his mount "Going Rogue," and he achieved a top 5 position with a black gelding name "Hard Rock Tonto." He has achieved other awards along the way but credits these as some of his most exciting moments.
Andy has served as the National Barrel Horse Association director for AL01 district over 13 counties in North Alabama. He enjoyed his experience with this association and continues to compete as a member while also serving his students and carrying them to shows across the southeast United States.
Laila Sands- Instruction/Training Apprentice
Laila began riding with Grassland Ranch in 2015 as a student and quickly flourished into an active member of the Grassland Ranch program. Laila attends school with the renaissance home bound program in Athens, AL and rides and competes in barrel racing with Grassland.
Laila assists with feeding horses, daily instruction, and training of the horses in our program.
Johnny Casteel- Barn Operator
Johnny is the morning grounds manager who feeds and waters the horses, manicures the facility, and prepares the arenas for daily operations.
Johnny has always loved horses. His favorite reading is Louis L' Amour western and he loves to listen to Michael Martin Murphy's horse ballads. He earned a B.A. in English from Jacksonville State and Athens State University. His lovely wife Kay is currently finishing her B.A. in studio art at Athens State University.
Johnny owned and trained quarter horses and apaloosas as a young man until he met and married his wife Kay and moved to Hartselle, AL. After obtaining his degree Johnny began working for Kroger and after 35 years retired to enjoy the things he loves doing most. He now owns three horses which he boards at Grassland Ranch, two of which he has broke to ride himself, and another he is currently working.
Johnny now lives in his hometown of Athens with his wife Kay. They have three children, six grandchildren, and another on the way. He enjoys bringing them to Grassland so they can learn to ride and enjoy horses as well.
Colton Bullard- Instructor- Barn Manager
Colton Bullard was born and raised in Hartselle, AL and now resides at Grassland Ranch in Athens. Colton has been riding and showing horses since he was old enough to sit up on a horse. He comes from a great family of horse trainers and riders, and he has shown in many disciplines such as showmanship halter, western pleasure, and barrel racing/pole bending.
Colton assists in day to day operations at Grassland including feeding horses, processing orders for barn supplies, arranging events, and instruction to students.
When Colton is not working at the barn he is an active realtor with Weichert Realtors in Madison, AL. He also shows horses in barrel racing with the National Barrel Horse Association, Lucky Dog Productions, and No Bull as well as many other associations.