Before she was the mother of winners, Nicky Brick House knew what it was like to break arena records, win futurities, and slingshot her body around barrels in the blink of an eye. A stout sorrel mare with a huge heart and an even bigger engine, the barrel racing powerhouse lived up to her name and her theme song.
“Nicky was the type of mare who, any time she went down the alleyway and the song, ‘Brick House,’ came on over the loudspeakers, everybody went to the fence to watch her run,” recalled Tiffany Fox Case, who qualified for the 2009 National Finals Rodeo aboard Nicky. “She was that good of a mare.”
Bred by Figure 9 Quarter Horses out of Blanchard, Okla., the 1999 daughter of Brick House Bouncy out of Pass Em Nicky was destined for speed from the minute she hit the ground. Her maternal grandsire, $3 million dollar winner and three-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Dr Nick Bar, was a successful futurity and derby horse who also served as Fallon Taylor’s WPRA mount, while his sire, Flit Bar, became a legendary producer of speed horses with his first foal crop. Other notable names in Nicky’s bloodlines include Bouncy Mac, Harlan, Pass Em Up, and Jet Smooth. Like her speedy forebears, Nicky Brick House didn’t know how to hold anything back – she just knew how to run.
“She was the most talented horse that I’ve probably ever ridden in my life,” Tiffany said. “Her barrels were so fast, and she could get from one barrel to another quickly. And it was fun. On Nicky, you felt like you were going as fast as you could go.”
A Lotta Little Mare
Trained by Mark McKuin, who purchased the mare as a yearling, Nicky Brick House became a three-time barrel futurity derby champion in her youth. In 2007, she was purchased by legendary breeder Jud Little. Before becoming one of the best broodmares on the Jud Little Ranch in Springer, Okla., Nicky had a lengthy career on the professional rodeo circuit and helped propel the careers of multiple barrel-chasing cowgirls. One of those cowgirls, Benette Barrington-Little, says riding Nicky was like “turning a car radio on full blast.”
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“In the alley, you gave that mare her head – and she ran the barrels wire to wire,” Benette said. “You had to ride her all the way to that first barrel, but then you better sit down because she was pretty quick on the back side. She was very athletic. It was easy for her to run barrels because she was built to do it. She was a lotta little mare.”
In the late 2000s, Nicky Brick House ran barrels from Canada to Mississippi to Washington to Texas, frequently setting or breaking arena records wherever she went. She won multiple Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos and helped several riders qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, including Benette and Tiffany. Benette and Nicky also won first in a round at the Canadian Rodeo Finals in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Other riders who had a hand in shaping Nicky included professional barrel racing trainer Lyndee Stairs. In all, Nicky Brick House garnered over $150,000 in lifetime earnings to her name.
Friends For Life
While Nicky was traveling the country, one of her riders, Tiffany, discovered that the sorrel mare traveled better when she had a friend – specifically, another fiery red mare named Frosty Feelins. Bred and raised by Jud Little, Frosty was a daughter of Sun Frost who spent her life chasing barrels. Like Nicky, she earned over $150,000 during her lifetime and qualified for the NFR. She was also Nicky’s favorite buddy.
Side by side, the mares looked virtually identical. The same bright coppery color, each mare also sported a slender blaze and one white foot.
“Nicky could be nervous, and Frosty ended up being her little support animal,” Tiffany said. “Frosty had a ton of confidence, and they were always right together. Once I figured out that Frosty helped make Nicky calmer, it just made sense to keep them together as much as possible.”
When Jud Little eventually passed away in 2020, the mares were sold in a ranch-wide dispersal sale. Luckily, they were both purchased by C.J. Lembke, owner of 70 Ranch Performance Horses in Gainesville, Texas.
For C.J., owning Nicky Bricky House was like meeting a childhood idol in the flesh.
“I used to watch her run when I was a little kid,” C.J. said. “And my best friend had a picture of her on her bedroom wall when we were growing up. It was that iconic picture where she’s turning the barrel [in Puyallup, Wa.] and she’s almost sideways in the turn because she had just slipped. It was really cool when I finally put two and two together and realized that the mare I had just bought was the same horse I’d watched back then.”
C.J. incorporated both legendary mares into her breeding program during their twilight years, using embryo transfer and intracytoplasmic sperm injection to produce foals out of Nicky by Dash Ta Fame as well as some of her own stallions, such as Feel the Sting. Although most of Nicky’s latest progeny are still too young to train, C.J. says it’s not hard to tell who their mother is.
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“Nicky had these little roany spots on her sides, and one of her daughters has those exact same spots,” C.J. said with a laugh. “I’m really excited to start her because I see a lot of Nicky in that filly. And all of her foals look at you with that same look in their eye, but I notice it more with the fillies. Her fillies are something special.”
In January 2022, Nicky Brick House was humanely euthanized alongside Frosty Feelins due to the infirmities of old age. The two mares are buried together on C.J.’s ranch.
Fast and Furious
In the course of her lifetime, Nicky Brick House produced plenty of money earners, including Kindergarten & Southern Rebel Futurity Champion Dashin In Heaven, Reserve Champ Barrel Futurities of America Super Stakes & LG Pro Classic Consolation A Valiant Nicky, and BFA Juvenile & LG Pro Classic Slot finalist Brick House Dynasty, among many others. In all, her progeny have earned more than $200,000, and that number is sure to rise.