I use a cross-under bridle with my mule and there is no "delay" in communication at all - my mule responds immediately, pressure is released right away - no "muddying" of communication. She is not confused. My bridle has no poll pressure, and the nose band is not tight. Like with any nose band, you adjust it to a humane setting. If my mule chose to eat or drink on the trial she could easily do so. Also, my mule maintains her balance very well with this bridle, and I can feel her come up, causing the reins to go slack naturally. Some people ride bridleless, and communication seems to be fine. Good training, trust, and partnership are key.