what one of my coaches had me do was stand on a set of stairs and rest the balls of my feet on the step as if it were a stirrup and then drop my heels below the step level and do that for 15 mins hold down for 5-10 secs then return to level and then reapeat you will elongate your calf muscle and strengthen your ankles so you have greater control of your muscles and muscle memory so heels down wont be so hard also ALOT of no sttirup work at the trot and canter really help to. HOPE this helps :)
It really helps to relax the whole leg from its "roots", the ball joint, and to gently let gravity open the hips through sitting trot. I have given exercises on the lunge which actually ask the rider to let the ankle just relax and the foot hang. Then, the rider can lift the toe from a stretched - but not forced to stretch - leg, through proprioception, or attention. The ground exercises that were suggested are also very useful, but 15 minutes seems like too long. Relax, have fun and give it time.
I can't really tell from your picture but it looks as though your heels are going down rather well and you have a nice position, but your hips are really tight, I think. If you can relax the psoas muscle, very tight in most women, and open up, it will be easier to have your leg and heel just drop down. Here is a stretch and also an explanation of what the muscle is and does: http://stronglifts.com/the-psoas-is-it-killing-your-back/
The old torture of "sitting" in an invisible chair with your back flat against the wall, your knees bent, for 1 minute or more per time also loosens the hip area, strangely enough. Good luck!
I had long boots and my instructor told me that it is harder to keep you toes down when you have long boots because there is all the rubber/leather in the way try wearing gaiters or short chaps with short boots
Hi Erika... Ruth Poulsen here... i just posted a video on some position issues, i don the think the first one covers the heels, but the second one does... sometime stubborn heels are a product of a stiff hip, or calves... are you stretching at all before you ride? Ruth
One thing that helps keeping the heels down, is to keep my chin up. Heels down, toes up, chin up. This allows for deeper breathing, (which keeps the whole body relaxed), opening up the chest and shoulders, and keeping my eyes looking where I want to go.
Hi Erika, looking at your pic, I think you are sitting too far back in the saddle. It looks like you could sit more forward into the deepest part of the seat, this will keep your knees from being pulled up by your hips. When you are sitting do you feel you are sitting on your seat bones or your crouch? If you lift you pelvis a little you will sit in the deep part of the saddle and the angle of you leg will straiten a little letting your heel come lower . Cheers Geoffrey
try to stretch your calfs before you go on your horse. or when you go upstairs to get something orso just push your heels down for a couple seconds and if you do that a couple times a day it really helps i find.
And looking at your picture try to make your stirups longer so you have a deeper seat because I think you have to much angle at your knee and also try to get all your weight in your heels so they will automatically go down.
I train my heels down on my horse with riding my horses without stirups and then you get your balance and you need to keep your heels down otherwise I have the feeling I dont have any balance.
Hope you can do anything with it :)
I have found that what works best for me is standing on a stair as if you are going up the stairs but with your toes on and your heels off the stairs and stretching your heels down. You can hold onto the stair railing and just kind of stretch downward. I don't know if I have explained it very good but it sure works well for me. It stretches the long muscles in your legs and really makes it so much easier in the stirrup. Hope this helps.