The Nutcracker story is the last reason to see this equestrian take on it, providing little more than some holiday trappings and a very slim framework for the riding. The 80-minute show works best when it departs from the narrative and Tchaikovsky's music, especially in a trick-riding display by circus performers Omar Chinibekov and Sergey Latokhin. But the best bit is a duet between a bumbling horse trainer and his smart, handsome white steed. In a comic reversal of the dynamic crucial to animal training, the horse gets the upper hand and keeps it, outwitting the man at every turn. Intermittently amusing, the action in the ring could be better coordinated with the lighting and music. Opening performances Fri 11/18, 11 AM and 7:30 PM. Through 1/8; schedule follows. 11/19-11/20: Sat 2 and 6:30 PM, Sun 1 and 5:30 PM. Special Thanksgiving schedule 11/23-11/27: Wed 7:30 PM, Thu 6 PM, Fri 2 and 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7 PM, Sun 2 and 5:30 PM. See www.chicagoreader.com for complete schedule. Noble Horse Theatre, 1410 N. Orleans, 866-468-3401 or 312-266-7878. $15-38.