Haha, well I'm in Iowa...that's probably a little closer than North Carolina. I don't know where Cadet is in Missouri, but if it's somewhere in the northern part, there's this state forest called Shimek Forest that is practically on the Iowa/Missouri border. We're going to go down there probably again this next year, and you'd be welcome to join!
Otherwise though, I mostly stick to north Iowa, though I am branching out because of my blog.
I joined a trail riding group that covers a pretty big radius around my zip code and found someone with 10 miles of my house. We have gone on so many great rides within a few months. Try looking for group rides in your area or go to Facebook.
When I joined the trail riding Facebook page, I asked questions about a ride they were organizing and asked if they thought it was creepy if I showed up alone. I got a loud and clear NO. Someone was even kind enough to say "not creepy at all, it's a good way to meet other horse people".
I'm always looking for new riding buddies too I'm a couple hours away from you but not too bad. I have to be careful who I ride with currently as I have a new horse and he's only 4. I'm a cautious rider as well and afraid of heights so I try not to ride with those who prefer other styles of riding and terrain so I don't hinder their fun! I am part of a group on facebook though called horse chat and they are always trail riding all over the place