My story happens in the same settings as my previous questions:

There's a tribe as in proto-state which lives mostly in a valley west of a mountain pass, while small minority lives east of it in the steppe. Their enemies, the highland clans unite under a single leader and cut off the crossing.

Composite bows, trained falcons and warhorses of highest quality came from the clan which is cut off. Now the warriors are forced to do with inferior war materials. While composite bows could be replaced with somewhat weaker short bows & recurved short bows, and trained falcons are nice to have but not essential, the lack of warhorses is the biggest concern. Most of the horses in the valley are small strong animals, excellent for farm work, but quite slow and small for war.

However there is a woman from the horse breeding clan, who previously married a man from the valley and brought more than a dozen horses with her.

As the members of her clan are known as superior horse breeders and masters of the bow. Is it realistic for a chieftain to conscript her to breed & train horses for them?

Something like, will give you meadows, mares, and release your husband & and people that work for you from the militia duty, but you have to breed and train horses and sell them to our warriors.

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    $\begingroup$ if she married to the part of this clan and using patriarchy system, then she is part of the clan now and need to obey the chief. beside the deal seems reasonable. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun 2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ Only if the chieftain is a chieftainess and the tribe is a matriarchy. Or else, only if the woman is a widow without adult sons. Otherwise the chieftain should talk to the husband or generally to the male head of the family. (And anyway, the chieftain is not looking to conscript her; he wants to buy horses and engage her services: that's something entirely different, with very different dynamics.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP 2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this question has much to do with either women or horses. The title makes it look like it's unwillingly about putting women in the army. $\endgroup$ – Daron 2 days ago
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for accepting my answer, but I suggest that you un-accept and wait a few days. Worldbuilding often has no one right answer, just several options. If you still think my answer is best then, accept. $\endgroup$ – o.m. 2 days ago
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    $\begingroup$ @soho If you accept an answer too quickly you dissuade other people from giving other, potentially better, answers. $\endgroup$ – Daron 2 days ago

If this is the middle ages, democracy and the rule of law are probably not an issue the same way it is today. Respect for traditions and ancient rights is important, but there is some flexibility in that.

  • The chieftain can offer an honor she cannot refuse.
    Like offering the privilege of supplying warhorses to the most prestigious cavalry units, in exchange for relief of taxes and other duties.
    The rights and duties of feudal liegemen and of serfs in much of Europe were held to be fixed since time immemorial, but that was not actually true. Say the villagers owed, among other things, five days reaping the manor's grain fields, and the lord of the manor owed beer and lunch during the harvest days. Or the villagers were required to mill their grain at the lord's mill, at the customary fee.
    When the economy changed, and another crop replaced grain, the villagers and the lord had to negotiate a change of the deal. Neither side could unilaterally impose the change, ancient rights and all that, but in the end everybody agreed to pay a couple of shillings instead of tramping out to the dusty fields.
  • Who gets the offer, anyway?
    Is it the foreign woman, or is it the local-born husband? Who is nominally the head of the household and thus entering deals? Send the husband on horse-breeding duty and see if the wife follows or leaves him in the lurch.
    And if both husband and wife are balky, set the task of delivering warhorses on the entire village. Have the neighbours figure out how to deliver. Why, surely they know someone who knows ...
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This is a Non-Problem.

So a talented horse breeder has married into the valley clan and now lives here. The chieftain wants her to breed horses for use in warfare.

My question is what else is she doing? other than breeding horses.

This is her profession. She was breeding horses before she married and will continue to breed horses until she dies. She trades the horses with the other tribe members to get everything she needs to live.

Then chieftain comes along and says "Hey breed me 100 warhorses". Lady says "How do you plan to pay for them"? Chieftain says "I am the boss give me horses."

It seems the real question is much more broad (and has nothing to do with women or horses):

Can a ruler make hard demands on his subjects?

I think the important factor here is how big the tribe is. If the guy was a king of a large country he can just make demands and back them upby sending the army around. Provided he doesn't make too many riduculous demands he doesn't have to deal with an uprising. If the country is really big it's hard for an uprising to gain enough momentum to defeat the army.

But since this guy is a chieftain his tribe is likely much smaller. Since everyone knows each other the chieftain cannot make too many ridiculous demands without people talking and him losing reputation. Uprisings are much easier since the guys in your "army" are second cousins to the horse lady. If you make a ridiculous demand and try to send them over over they might just refuse and join her side.

One big factor that will influence how reasonable the demands are is Do we actually need that many warhorses? In times of peace a sudden demand for 100 horses will seem ridiculous. On the other hand if we were just attacked by a new enemy then a demand for warhorses seems more reasonable and the tribe will probably support forcing the lady to breed horses for free.

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  • $\begingroup$ Horses are not all alike; if this is a time of peace, and she's mostly been focused on coursers for scouts and messengers and draft horses for working the fields, she may not have warhorses in any real quantity. And 100 is not a small number of horses! Horses are a resource that must be husbanded many years in advance. $\endgroup$ – Cadence 2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence Indeed you might even say 100 horses is an unreasonable amount of hourses. $\endgroup$ – Daron yesterday

Warhorses were like tanks & airplanes of the modern era. Chinese send a whole army to acquire quality horses in War of heavenly horse. Beside all the talk about phalanx, it was the horsemanship of the Thesalian, Theban and companion cavalry that decided battles, unless the terrain was unsuitable for cavalry (broken, not enough place to maneuver etc). Roman aristocrats served as cavalry and they hired Celtic cavalry to expand their ranks. During the crusades templars required knights to bring their mounts or a lot of money to buy those, otherwise they were sent back. The major problem for crusader cavalry was to keep themselves mounted.

The advantage of the cavalry is their mobility, which allows them to choose where and when to fight. If her super horses gives them that advantage they would want them. If she want to sell them abroad they could ban export of war horses.

The thing that worries me is that they live in the valley, while her clan is in the steppe. The steppe means sea of grassland unsuitable for agriculture, great for pastoralists. Valley on the other hand means plenty of fertile land, excellent for agriculture, too expensive to be wasted on pasture.

Chinese tried many times to breed their own horses, even imposing quotas of something like horse per 10 families but farmers resented it and the results were poor. Horse is uneconomical compared to water buffalo to the settled peasant. So even if your woman wants to help the war effort, and the chieftain gives all the meadows, the horses will still remain something reserved for the rich, few and expensive. Settled peasants land are not suitable for large scale horse breeding.

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  • $\begingroup$ All the examples from your first paragraph are from regions with farming, not from the steppes roamed by pastoralists. Steppe horses are tough and can survive just by grazing. But I have a hard time imagining a small Mongolian horse carrying a mounted European knight. $\endgroup$ – Jan 2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan I highly doubt pastoralists would need somebody's help to breed help. OP says woman married into valley people, which in my mind that means settles farmers. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski 2 days ago
  • $\begingroup$ You wrote in your last paragraph that settled land is not suitable for breeding lots of horses. But all your examples of great warhorses ("like tanks") are from settled societies, While historically steppe horses tend to be small and/or lean and would have a hard time carrying a well-fed knight plus some dozen kgs of plate armor. Pastoral societies may have more horses than settled societies. But they tend to have "low-maintenance" horses that can survive on their own. Only settled societies have the resources to breed and feed the high-upkeep horses described in your first paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Jan yesterday
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Not really pastoral societies have both far more horses and usually better horses, though settled societies might have some good ones. Commoners in the steppe societies rode less expensive horses and served as lightly armored mounted archers, while nobles in the pastoral societies rode larger breeds. Massagetae cataphracts were wealthy and rode horses able enough to carry barded fully armored horseman. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski yesterday
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan You can read Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare & Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium To The Crusades why cavalry in the settled societies was domain of the aristocracy. On the other hand in pastoral societies everyone has horses and they better be good ones or the raiders will steal all your cattles. The very wealthy used the famous breeds such as Nisean for heavy cavalry then Akhal Teke & iomud for raiding. They also have plenty of sturdy ponies. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski yesterday

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