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Perthshire horsewoman says she was driven to suicide attempt by ‘shooting parties’ on neighbouring estate

Karen Inkster, who owns Equine Unlimited near Dunkeld, has launched a bid for new gun laws after claiming shooting parties have damaged her and her business.

A woman with a helmet standing between two horses wearing bitless bridles.
Karen Inkster with her horses Monty and Connie. Image: DC Thomson

A Perthshire horsewoman has launched a petition for new laws to control shooting parties firing guns directly next to her home and business.

Karen Inkster, who owns a holistic equestrian centre near Dunkeld, says she has been driven to attempt suicide as a result of shoots held next to her property.

A holistic approach to horses involves working with the animals without using aggression, force or fear.

Ms Inkster claims the sound of shotguns firing nearby have caused the horses to panic, putting them at risk of injury by running into fencing.

The pheasant shoots take place on an estate adjacent to her business.

The landowner declined to comment when approached.

The Courier, however, understands he does not believe the shoots cause any alarm or distress to Ms Inkster’s horses.

It is understood that he has challenged Ms Inkster’s claim locally that any injury to her animals can be linked to shoots held on his land.

The day after he was contacted by The Courier in April, Ms Inkster received surprise inspections from the SSPCA and SEPA after both organisations received anonymous tip offs.

A SEPA spokesperson confirmed Ms Inkster was complying with all relevant regulations while the SSPCA spokesperson added there were “no animal welfare concerns” at the equestrian centre.

Who is Karen Inkster?

The horse rider came to public attention in 2017 after travelling the length of the Outer Hebrides, unsupported, with her rescue pony Connie and deaf dog Pip.

Ms Inkster lives alone in a caravan next to her business on her 23 acres of land on Dungarthill Estate, which she bought in 2019.

It is understood the landowner, who organises the legal pheasant shoots, bought the land in 2018.

Karen with horses Jess and Connie. Image: DC Thomson

Ms Inkster has reported the majority of the incidents to the police, but they have been unable to help her.

There is no existing law regulating how close a shooting party can operate next to a home or business.

Ms Inkster says she tried to take her own life

Ms Inkster’s dispute with the landowner began at the start of the 2021 shooting season and has escalated since.

Ms Inkster says the shooting parties often fire their guns just 50 metres from her horses.

She claims she has “begged” for organisers to hold the shoots elsewhere on the estate – which is believed to be 600 acres – but her concerns have “fallen on deaf ears”.

The situation reached a breaking point in 2022, Ms Inkster says, when she attempted to take her own life.

She said: “My anxiety and fear got so bad that just prior to the shoot season starting in September 2022, I tried to take my own life.

“I walked into the hills… I felt utterly powerless and simply wanted the fear to stop.

“I was found two days later.

“I was referred by the police to victim support and I am receiving help from them I am grateful for their support.

“But I remain powerless in preventing further incidents and live in fear of the next shoot.”

What changes does Ms Inkster want to see in the law?

Ms Inkster’s new petition is calling on the UK’s minister of justice, Alex Chalk, to introduce a new law which means that there is a minimum distance of 500m between people who use guns for shooting animals and that of people and animals.

She said: “There are very little laws in relation to shooting, which seems ludicrous.

“Most people would be shocked to know that you can fire a shotgun quite close to someone and there is no law against this.

“The laws clearly need updating.”

Shooting next to Equine Unlimited. Image: Karen Inkster

Ms Inkster’s petition has been backed by Revive, a coalition of organisations which stand against “cruel sports”.

Max Wiszniewski, campaign manager for the Revive said: “It is deeply concerning that situations such as these are taking place.

“It unfortunately has not been the first time we’ve been told about people having trouble with neighbouring shooting estates due to fundamental power imbalances against affected local people.

“The shooting sector is horrendously underregulated and it’s important for the relevant governments and their agencies to protect local people against such concerning cases.”

How has the ‘shooting parties’ landowner responded?

Although the landowner declined to comment when approached by The Courier, another resident on the estate told us that shoot dates are communicated to nearby residents well in advance.

The woman, who also beats on the estate, said: “The shoot has gone on for over 100 years.

“The landowner puts an email round to all the residents on the estate so they are all aware.

“It’s not to stop them going out, but just to say, ‘Just so you are aware, we are shooting today, there will be bangs’.

“Even when we do the drive next to Karen’s, we are still very much on the estate owner’s ground and giving a good 50-60m clearance.

“The shooters also stand with their backs to her land, so they don’t shoot in her direction.”

“We have five major shooting estates in that area,” she added.

“And Karen has bought a piece of ground right in the centre of it.”

Will the government change the law?

Legislation regarding firearms is reserved to the UK government.

When asked if it would consider introducing new gun laws, a spokesperson refused to comment, saying only petitions to the UK Government and Parliament with more than 10,000 signatures will receive a response.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is vital that all those undertaking shooting activities do so in a responsible manner that doesn’t put people or non-target species at risk.

“Any suspected criminality should be reported to Police Scotland.”

Shooting parties are held regularly throughout pheasant shooting season. Image: Karen Inkster

Ms Inkster has taken the matter up with her local MSP John Swinney and MP Pete Wishart, both SNP.

Mr Swinney said: “I am aware of my constituent’s concerns and have raised these directly with Police Scotland.

“It is my understanding that Police Scotland have offered to once more speak to my constituent to discuss this issue.

“It is also my understanding that my colleague, Pete Wishart MP, has made representations to the UK Government regarding firearms legislation.

“I recognise the strength of my constituent’s feeling regarding this matter and, going forward, I am happy to continue to offer whatever appropriate assistance I can.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a complaint; the matter was resolved and the complainer has been updated.”

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can find support by calling Samaritans for free on 116 123, emailing them at, or visiting to find your nearest branch.