Endurance enthusiasts Beryl and Don Sagar are proof that team work and mixing business with pleasure is a winning combination.
The Sagars, who recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and live at Parakai just outside Helensville, have been regular fixtures on the New Zealand endurance scene since Don took up the sport in 1985.
Although Beryl doesn’t ride, she’s a key support person and has successfully grown her own business, BJ Merino NZ Ltd, on the back of the couple’s love of the sport.
If you can imagine it as a saddle blanket, chances are Beryl can create it. With her eye-popping array of colours from hot pink to gold, she can add pockets, custom measure to fit a tricky sized horse and make just about any shape under the sun.
The Sagars have a farming background, both growing up on dairy farms.
They started out as share milkers when they were first married. When their son turned seven they moved and purchased their first dairy farm at Whangaripo, in north Auckland.
They were there for 28 years and eventually also bought half of the neighbouring farm and ran what Beryl calls “a very mixed unit”. Along with milking the cows, they also fattened lambs and raised dairy beef cattle.
In 1998, their last year at Whangaripo, their hard work culminated in Don being selected for the New Zealand endurance squad to go to Dubai.In 1981 their son left home and no longer having his cricket and rugby to follow, the couple decided it was time to do something for themselves. They eventually settled on endurance riding and have since enjoyed great success in the sport, as well as going on to breed their own competition horses.
That same year they sold up and moved to 40 acres at Kaukapakapa, where they could focus on breeding their own endurance horses. They also had beef cows.
In 2006 they decided to downsize and moved to their current home at Parakai. They still have beef cattle, just not as many. They also downsized the horse operation and don’t bred anymore, instead buying horses in.
We'll continue Beryl and Don’s story in the next instalment, when we find out about their riding achievements and breeding success.