DS (8) has been riding for a couple of years, but really seems to have physical difficulty in getting his heels down. Short boots have only helped a bit. Apart from heel dips on a stair, can anyone suggest any exercises?
How is the rest of her position? The reason I ask is it is something I have struggled with , but have just had a breakthrough - it's about how I use my hip, thigh and knee when I ride....... Though I am an adult and that is probably about having a job that involves sitting for years......
I know with my son(now 11) - our instructor gets him to ride a lot in half seat to strengthen and improve the position of the lower leg.
I have the same problem with DD1 who is 9. She's ridden since she could walk, so it pretty confident and competent but somehow has never got her balance down the back of her legs into her heels. I have recently bought some safety cages for her stirrups which stop her shoving her feet right through them, which helps. Also I make sure her stirrups are short enough that she can properly get her heels down. Other than that, as the others say, it's all about having independent balance without needing to grip up with his heels, which can be helped through riding without stirrups, on and off the lunge. (I don't really do lungeing though as I don't have a suitable pony.) I also get mine to ride bareback every so often (when I can't be bothered to tack up!). A bit of gymnastic jumping over small grids might help either without stirrups or without reins, and get him to concentrate on keeping his legs near the girth and heels down.
I really wouldn't worry about heels down too much at this age. When they are forced down it creates a lot of tension further up the leg. They will also tend to stick their lower leg forward in an attempt to maintain their position. As a consequence, their upper body will tilt forwards to compensate. Better to concentrate on good core balance first, together with good arms (with elbows relaxed at their sides) - heels will come later :-)