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Crafting a Legacy: The Remarkable Journey of Oscar Belliveau

Oscar Belliveau is an eccentric individual, but engaging in a conversation with him is an experience you wouldn’t want to end. He possesses a plethora of stories from his well-traveled life that commenced with harness racing.

Born in Halifax in 1950 and brought up in Moncton, New Brunswick, Oscar’s introduction to harness racing occurred during his early years as a newspaper boy.

In 1963, at the age of eight, Oscar’s paper route led him to the racetrack, specifically the old Moncton Raceway, later known as Brunswick Downs. The track’s historical significance during World War II as an airport was highlighted by Joe O’Brien’s father, a key figure in its establishment.

Oscar attributes his attraction to the barn area at Moncton to his astrological sign, Sagittarius, which he humorously describes as being “half-horse.” This emotional connection to horses and the track prompted him to frequent the area after school, eventually extending his visits to the summers. Under the mentorship of trainer Danny Pelerin, Oscar delved into tasks like cleaning stalls and tending to the horses.

Enduring the harsh Canadian winter conditions, Oscar reminisces about jogging horses using a sled to navigate the snow and ice during the chilly months.

Restless in a traditional academic setting, Oscar’s adventurous spirit led him to run away from home at the tender age of 14, embarking on a journey to Frederickton, New Brunswick. Despite the lack of monetary compensation, he found solace in the provision of shelter and food. Subsequent escapades to Woodstock, New York, and St. Johns at ages 14 and 15, respectively, preceded his stint at various racetracks like Vernon Downs, Seminole Downs, Saratoga, and Roosevelt, where he encountered renowned horses such as Lavern Hanover and Fresh Yankee.

Returning to Canada in 1974, Oscar had garnered profound insights into horses and the racing industry, particularly emphasizing the importance of maintaining both the mental and physical well-being of these magnificent animals. His expertise expanded to include alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, which he employed to aid the horses under his care.

Collaborating with esteemed horseman John Patteson, Sr., in Dalton, Georgia, Oscar’s experiences ranged from caretaking Most Happy Fella during a pivotal race to working with Randy Perry’s stable in New York. Despite opportunities to take over Perry’s horses after an unfortunate accident, Oscar’s unwavering commitment to caretaking prevailed.

Transitioning through diverse experiences in the 1990s, Oscar’s trajectory led him to China in 2006 as an English teacher—a role he embraced wholeheartedly despite his modest educational background. His profound understanding of horses and their needs significantly influenced his teaching approach, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and intuition in fostering effective communication and learning.

Reflecting on his unconventional educational journey shaped by his interactions with horses, Oscar acknowledges the invaluable lessons learned and the impact on his teaching methodology. Employing storytelling as a powerful teaching tool, he engages students through historical narratives, fostering a deeper understanding and connection to the subject matter.

At 73, Oscar’s health and financial stability stand as testaments to his dedication to the art of caretaking. Drawing parallels between deciphering horses’ needs and addressing challenges in life, he underscores the nuanced nature of understanding and resolving issues, whether in the realm of animal care or human interaction.

Through his experiences with horses, Oscar has cultivated a profound appreciation for life’s complexities, recognizing that true understanding often lies beneath the surface, waiting to be uncovered through patience, intuition, and a willingness to listen—to both animals and people alike.