Prior to becoming a knight, young men put in a long apprenticeship as a squire. Squires were assigned to a knight for their training in weapons and social graces. In return they cared for the knight's equipment and horses, dressed him for combat, guarded him, and accompanied him into battle. All knights were squires at an early age, but not all squires became knights. Squires without noble birth, financial backing, or the support of superior lord might live out their life without becoming a knight. Squires fought alongside the knights, although their weapons and armor were of a lower standard. The support of squires made armies more effective.