At 86, AQHA Judge and New Mexico Horseman Writes First Book

Many of the best horsemen to ride this earth have gathered their techniques and information over decades. Even better horsemen gather their information over decades and miles.

Horsemanship has been an oral tradition among tradesmen such as farriers, colt starters, ranchers, cowboys and buckaroos. Singers and songwriters have also passed down equine traditions through their lyrics. Although many books have been written for equine veterinarians and college students, until now, it was hard to find a book that encompassed horsemanship for the adult. One that included terminology of an expert horseman described so that anybody could understand. One that was written by a man with real, applicable horsemanship skills on the ranch, trail and in the show pen. Joe B. Armstrong, PhD, has written just that, and the Horseman’s Handbook is now available for purchase.

“Horseman’s Handbook is a concise read that covers all aspects of owning and caring for a horse. The contents include important insight … about all aspects of your equine partner.” Al Dunning, World Champion horseman, clinician and author, said.

“After working with so many youth and adults, I felt I needed to write this book to share practical advice on how to have a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience with your horse and provide simple methods for quality care to avoid the mistakes and disappointments that come with having to learn it all on your own,” Armstrong said.

“I very seldom endorse books but I whole heartedly recommend [Horseman’s Handbook] to novice and professionals alike … All pros should buy it as a Christmas present for each of their clients! All boarding facilities ought to make it required reading for their clients! And all clinicians should as well,” Dale Livingston, World Champion Trainer and 2007 AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, said.

Before Horseman’s Handbook

His early equine knowledge came from Coffeeville, Mississippi, via his brother-in-law and cutting horse pioneer, Elbert Sides. As he grew and gained a college education, he couldn’t help but think about horses. At that time, college programs were only titled Animal Husbandry and primarily focused on breeding and raising cattle. Nevertheless, Armstrong applied his knowledge to equine breeding.

This was also around the same time that the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was in its infancy. Armstrong attended an AQHA judging seminar and was the only person to place all of his classes correctly. Through one simple seminar, he earned a No. 1 rating and became the youngest person to earn an AQHA Judges card.

Armstrong went on to judge and teach horsemanship throughout the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and Japan.

Over his many travels, he found the best ways to explain and teach horsemanship to every walk of mankind.

“For decades, Dr. Armstrong has been a leader in advancing the American Quarter Horse around the world,” Clay Mathis, head of the Texas A&M Department of Animal Science, said.

Settling back in New Mexico, Armstrong revitalized the New Mexico 4-H Horse Program, instituted the New Mexico State University Horse Judging Team, started the NM 4-H Horse School, began a week-long wilderness Horse Packing & Outfitting course, introduced NMSU to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, sponsored and recruited for the NMSU Rodeo Team and began a student-produced horse sale.

“NMSU Professor Emeritus Joe B. Armstrong built one of the finest academic horse programs in the country. Focused on student learning, statewide Extension education, and utilizing research results, Dr. Armstrong has fostered equine knowledge and communication across the United States and beyond,” John Owens, former Dean of the College of Agriculture at New Mexico State University, said.

As a man who dedicated his life to the journey of horsemanship, he also made it welcoming for others to step foot in this journey. That has been recognized by his induction into the New Mexico 4-H Hall of Fame, his New Mexico FFA Honorary State Farmer status, his award for being an Outstanding Professor in the NMSU College of Agriculture, New Mexico Quarter Horse Association Man of the Year, and his induction into the Deutsche Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame.

“Joe…has given time, expertise and heart to build a strong equine community in New Mexico and beyond,” Kate Bradley Byars wrote in Western Horseman magazine, September 2018.

Not only a teacher, Armstrong is a competitor and breeder himself, bringing firsthand experience to the judges chair and the classroom. This year, he has once again qualified for the AQHA World Show and will be competing in Ranch Riding. Next year, he will mark his 60th year of breeding champion and working performance horses.

“Dr. Joe Armstrong’s new book is great. It is factual and up to date on the science of our industry. Joe is unique in the world of academics. He’s a horseman who has ‘been there’,” Jim Heird, past President of the American Quarter Horse Association, former Professor (Texas A&M, CSU and Texas Tech), and Texas Horse Racing and Cowboy Hall of Fame Honoree, said.

Now 86, Armstrong’s first book, Horseman’s Handbook: Horse Ownership, Care & Enjoyment, is available to the public.

“What a wonderful blend of practical and scientific knowledge shared in an easy to understand way. Anyone interested in horses should own a copy of this book. One of the last great horseman shares his wealth of knowledge,” Craig Wood, past President and Hall of Fame Honoree of the American Paint Horse Association, and Assistant Extension Director for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Kentucky, said.

The Horseman’s Handbook by Joe B. Armstrong is unlike any other horse help book. From the expert to the beginner, everyone interested in horses can benefit from Armstrong’s advice. Armstrong has unabashedly provided the truth about horses and buying your first horse. His no-nonsense tips are simple; he will not lead you astray. He teaches the beginner how to not only care for a horse but also continue its training through beneficial every day interactions. Beautiful illustrations aid in the book’s usefulness and put the reader right in the barn with Armstrong.

“I am amazed at the breadth of this book – all new horse owners need this book because they have no place to go for this knowledge.” Bill Myers, horseman and leading breeder (Frenchmans Guy), said.

 Join Joe B. Armstrong, PhD, and his many students (now horsemen) from around the world in learning generations and decades of knowledge from this lifelong professional horseman. Find yourself in the mountains of Wyoming, the barn isles of Armstrong Equine Service, as well as veterinary practices and show arenas across the world. The useful, eloquent and entertaining Horseman’s Handbook is available for purchase at and on Amazon. Personalized inscriptions are available for orders placed at

Foreword written by B.F. Yeates, AQHA Hall of Fame Honoree, Texas A&M Extension Horse Specialist Emeritus, and Texas Tech Rodeo Hall of Fame Honoree

Published by Gunsight Media, October 2023
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175 Esslinger Road
La Mesa, New Mexico 88044

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