I am often asked what is Classical Dressage?  In her book 'Dressage. The Art of Classical Riding' Sylvia Loch offers a very good definition;

"The Art of Classical Riding is the ability to teach the horse through the use of kindness, logic and exercises based on nature's laws of balance and harmony, to submit himself happily and proudly to the will of the rider without in any way upsetting his natural way of moving" (Loch, 1990. P18). 

I believe that classical work is predominately about enabling the horse, through correct training, to be the best and most beautiful he can be within his own limitations.  A classically trained rider is one who always strives to improve themselves in order to be the best they can be for their horse.  A classically trained horse is treated with respect and patience in order to achieve strength and balance without using short-cuts or force, allowing him to live a healthy, long and productive life.