This article is very interesting: http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/ne.../warmingup.pdf
In short, not much research has been done, but the little that has suggests that warming up is beneficial for a horse, especially a high-performance horse. However, it does say that all horses are different and some may do better with going from walking on a loose rein straight to a slow canter (or lope) instead of trotting. Other horses may require the traditional walk then trot then canter method.
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