Red light and near-infrared light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation therapy, are a non-invasive method for reducing pain and inflammation, promoting healing, and enhancing cellular performance. Over the past several years, they have been gaining popularity in the horse world as means to aid in the recovery from injury, and to help manage chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

How Light Therapy Works

Red light and near-infrared light therapy involve the use of specific wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular function and promote tissue repair. These wavelengths of light penetrate the skin and tissues, reaching the cells and mitochondria within the body. The energy from the light is absorbed by the cells and used to produce ATP, the energy currency of the cell. This increase in ATP production can promote cell growth and repair, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation.

Red light therapy typically uses wavelengths of light between 630 and 700 nanometers (nm) and falls in the visible light spectrum, while near-infrared therapy uses wavelengths between 800 and 900 nm, and is not perceptible to the human eye. These wavelengths of light have been shown to have different effects on the body. Red light therapy is more effective at treating surface-level issues, such as wounds and skin conditions, while near-infrared therapy can penetrate deeper into tissues (usually up to about 2 inches depending on density), and is more effective for treating muscle and joint pain.


Pain relief: Light therapy can be effective at reducing pain and inflammation in both acute and chronic conditions. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, tendonitis, and muscle strains.

Wound healing: Red light/near-infrared light therapy can promote faster healing of wounds, including cuts, abrasions, and surgical incisions. It can also help reduce the risk of infection and scarring.

Skin conditions: Red light therapy can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including rain rot, sweet itch, and dermatitis. It can also promote hair growth in areas of hair loss.

Hoof health: Red light/near-infrared light therapy can promote healthy hoof growth and reduce the risk – or assist in the healing – of conditions such as thrush and laminitis.

Enhanced performance: Red light/near-infrared light therapy can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote cell growth and repair, all of which can help horses perform better. It can also help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness, allowing horses to recover faster between workouts. With improvements in circulation and reduction in soreness, it can help increase range of motion.

Overall, red light/near-infrared light therapy can be a valuable tool for managing pain, hastening recovery, and supporting overall health and well-being. It is non-invasive, drug-free, and has no known adverse side effects. Many horse owners and trainers have reported positive results from using this therapy – myself included – and the best part is you can use it on yourself, too!